Israel Folau backed to shine on the wing

Israel Folau
Israel Folau

Australia head coach Michael Cheika believes Israel Folau will have "plenty of chances" to showcase his counter-attacking threat against Wales on Saturday.

Folau, who filled the outside centre position against world champions New Zealand in Yokohama last month, has been moved to wing in a back division that sees Samu Kerevi and Kurtley Beale chosen as Australia's midfield combination.

In the pack, hooker Tolu Latu makes only his second Test match start - his first was against France in 2016 - while lock Adam Coleman and flanker Jack Dempsey also feature.

Coleman has recovered from a groin injury that meant he missed the All Blacks clash in Yokohama, and he partners Izack Rodda in the second-row at the Principality Stadium.

"He (Folau) has been picked there (wing) the last few weeks, apart from the New Zealand game when he was in the centre because of injuries," Cheika said.

"He will still do a bit of work in the midfield and he is good in the wide channels when he gets the ball, that's his thing.

"He will float around a bit, as he does, and I am sure he will enjoy this game.

"I would say there will be a fair bit of kicking back and forth - Wales like to test you out around how you prepare your back-field - and Israel will have plenty of chances to go counter-attacking as well."

Australia are seeking a 14th successive victory against Wales, having not lost to them since a 21-18 reversal in Cardiff 10 years ago.

But Cheika is not reading much into that sequence, adding: "Every game is played on its merits. If you want to find a pattern, you can find one anywhere.

"Wales have had a few wins in a row and are up to third in the world, which is really good. They are in top form, and it will be up to us to show how we play the game.

"I will say this is as good as I have seen us come to Europe in terms of conditioning in the last few years.

"We are pretty hungry after an indifferent season, and there is a really good feeling in the camp.

"Everyone has been training hard and there has been a bit of niggle. It's been good - I have enjoyed it.

"I have always had a big rap on Wales. (Warren) Gatland is one of the best coaches in the world, and he has had success with the Lions and Wales. He has got a very well-organised, well-drilled team."


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