Joseph advises Wallabies to play Folau in position

SYDNEY • England's Jonathan Joseph believes Australia would be taking too big a risk if they opted to play Israel Folau at centre instead of his more accustomed role of full-back in the first of three Tests between the two sides on Saturday.

New South Wales Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson has moved Folau into midfield in Super Rugby this year, despite the 27-year-old former rugby league and Australian Rules man spending the majority of his union career at full-back.

However, Joseph said he expected Wallabies coach Michael Cheika to retain Folau at full-back in Brisbane, where he poses a greater threat on the counter-attack.

"Israel's a great player, obviously played the majority of his career at full-back but I've seen he's played a lot of 13 (outside centre) this season," the Bath centre told Australian media yesterday.

"Personally I think he'll play full-back. Great player, great feet, hard to defend against but there could be opportunities there as well."

Joseph also said he is excited by the prospect of lining up alongside Ben Te'o in midfield, with the Worcester Warriors-bound player poised to make his England debut at inside centre.

"His offloading game's very good and defensively he's very tough," Joseph added of the New Zealand-born Te'o. "He's a great player. Great to have in the squad and love to see what he can offer on the international stage."

James Haskell echoed Joseph's thoughts, saying Te'o had settled well in the squad.

"The guys have embraced him. From everything I've seen of him, he is 100 per cent committed," the England flanker told British media.

England coach Eddie Jones, who will announce his squad for Brisbane today, appears likely to be favouring a move for Maro Itoje from lock to blind-side flanker, putting former captain Chris Robshaw's place in doubt.

Haskell backed the youngster to be a success in the back row.

"Obviously he has played all sorts of positions with Saracens and at the end of the day, it is about balance of a back row. So if that was an option then I am sure he would do outstandingly well there," he said.

The second Test is in Melbourne on June 18, with the final match in Sydney on June 25.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2016, with the headline 'Joseph advises Wallabies to play Folau in position'. Print Edition | Subscribe