Wallabies winning the mind games

Sat, 30 Nov 2013 08:20
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Israel Folau said Australia would look to extend their "psychological edge" over Wales.

Israel Folau said Australia would look to extend their "psychological edge" over Wales when the 2015 World Cup pool rivals meet in Cardiff on Saturday.

The Wallabies head into the match at the Millennium Stadium on a run of eight straight wins over Wales.

And if they needed more incentive, it is provided by the fact Wales' starting line-up contains 11 members of the victorious British and Irish Lions squad that win a three-match series 2-1 in Australia earlier this year.

"There is still a bit of spice in it, especially after the Lions," Folau said.

"A lot of the Welsh boys were involved in that series, and it's still clear in our minds. It is going to be a big contest," the fullback said.

A convert from both Rugby League and Australian Rules, Folau's impressive debut season in international Rugby Union has left him on the verge of breaking teammate Quade Cooper's Australian record of nine Test tries in a calendar year.

"The World Cup was a big draw in me coming to union," added Folau, who played league for the Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos before joining AFL side Greater Western Sydney.

"It's in the back of my mind, if I play well. [Australia coach] Ewen McKenzie is doing a great job bringing the boys together as a team, and hopefully, at the World Cup we can be a strong force.

"We look at how teams like Wales and Ireland are playing now, so I imagine in a couple of years they will be strong forces. Hopefully, we will be as well.

"If we can win this week we can have a bit of a psychological edge over Wales. We've done a job on them in the past, and we hope to do another on Saturday."

Folau, still only 24-years-old, believes his multi-sport background has made him a better union player.

"I started off playing League for four years, but made a bit of a right-hand turn in 2010 to take up Australian Rules for a couple of years. That was different.

"Then the opportunity came up to play Rugby Union. I wasn't expecting it, but I'm glad it did. It has been a great year and I've really enjoyed it.

"Australian Rules was very different. I hadn't any experience playing Rules, but I thought I would give it a crack. Different skills are used, but it has helped me a lot in my transition to union.

"You have always got to be positioned correctly in rugby. Also, kicking and catching the high ball was a big thing in Rules, so playing it sharpened my skills.

"For me, playing at fullback, most of my time is spent reading the game and being in the right spot at the right time. Being two or three metres off makes a heck of a difference.

"I am slowly getting there, working on different combinations with [flyhalf] Quade Cooper and building an understanding.

"Quade is a great player and does a lot of unexpected things that other players cannot do. You have to react to what he does. You might think he's going to do one thing, but he does something completely different.

"I am lucky to have that league background, and it has helped me a lot in terms of reaction and instinct."