Folau to start for Wallabies

Israel Folau (AFP)
Israel Folau (AFP)
Brisbane - Israel Folau's stunning rise in his third code is complete, with the Waratahs fullback set to be named on the right wing against the British and Irish Lions on Saturday.

Folau will be one of three Wallabies debutants, with Christian Lealiifano and Brumbies team-mate Ben Mowen also getting the nod when the side is officially unveiled on Thursday.

Berrick Barnes has been given first crack at the No 15 jersey to provide voice and direction to the back three. Kurtley Beale's return to the Wallabies is likely to come from the bench.

The Waratahs' Kane Douglas has nailed down another contentious position to partner James Horwill in the second row, and Wycliff Palu has overcome his injury doubts to take his place in the back row alongside Michael Hooper and Mowen.

The inclusion of Lealiifano ahead of Pat McCabe signals the Wallabies intent to play with width and pace, while his kicking game will also alleviate the pressure on No 10 James O'Connor.

But it is the inclusion of Folau after less than one full season of Super Rugby that will be a major talking point. Just five months after a tentative Super Rugby debut against the Reds at Suncorp Stadium, Folau's form and line-breaking ability has made him impossible to ignore for Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.

Folau's diligence in absorbing information away from the paddock has also impressed the Wallabies coach, who backs his temperament in the big occasion.

Folau will link with Ioane in potentially devastating combination down the flanks, providing the Wallabies can win enough ball and secure quick possession at the breakdown.

Fine weather has increased hopes it will be a quick game, although some rain is forecast before Saturday.

Douglas has been included to provide more grunt at the scrum, winning a place ahead of Rob Simmons, while Ben Alexander and Benn Robinson will bookend Stephen Moore in the set piece.

Moore will also be hoping Mowen's presence at the lineout will provide the clean ball the backs need, and their understanding will be critical. Mowen, the leading lineout taker in Super Rugby, will call the set-piece.

Wallabies XV: Benn Robinson, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, James Horwill (captain), Kane Douglas, Ben Mowen, Michael Hooper, Wycliff Palu,Will Genia, James O'Connor, Digby Ioane, Christian Lealiifano, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Israel Folau, Berrick Barnes.


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