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Folau aims to keep edge over Wales

Full-back Israel Folau makes no secret of the fact that Australia want to confirm a "psychological edge" over 2015 World Cup pool rivals Wales this weekend.

The Wallabies have not lost to their Millennium Stadium hosts for five years, reeling off eight successive wins and compounding Wales' prolonged tale of woe against major southern hemisphere opposition.

Australia also have an added incentive of turning the tables following this summer's Test series defeat against a British and Irish Lions squad laced with outstanding Welsh talent like Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Jonathan Davies, Sam Warburton and Mike Phillips.

"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."

Former rugby league and Aussie Rules convert Folau has made a startling global impact during his first year in the union code, announcing himself as an attacker of searing brilliance and a master under the high ball.

And if he scores a try on Saturday it would break his team-mate 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 shone as a league player with Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos before turning his attention to AFL team 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 might be a newcomer to rugby's 15-a-side code, but he showed enough against the Lions for Wales to be put on red alert and expect some magical moments from the 24-year-old.

"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 full-back, 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 (fly-half) 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."


From Belfast Telegraph