International Rugby

Folau won’t change aerial approach in All Blacks showdown

Israel Folau has no plans to change his approach to aerial challenges when Australia begin their Rugby Championship campaign against New Zealand on Saturday.

The Wallabies full-back was handed a contentious one-match ban for making contact with Peter O’Mahony in June’s Test series against Ireland.

Folau sought more clarity for the reasoning behind that decision by World Rugby but sees no reason to alter his style when the All Blacks visit Sydney for the Bledisloe Cup opener.

“I won’t modify anything,” he said. “After the incident in June, going back to Super Rugby, I approached the game the same way as any other game.

“For me, it doesn’t change anything. Going into the weekend, I’ll have the same mindset in attacking the ball in the air and obviously making good decisions around that.

“I believe my technique is fair play. I’ll attack the ball at every opportunity I get to try and win possession for the team.

“It was a little bit grey obviously. I said it earlier in June that we needed a lot more clarification going forward around that area. Not only for myself but for guys that are involved in those contests.

“It’s never bothered me in that time. I went back to Super Rugby and approached the high balls in the same way as I usually do.”

Team-mate Matt Toomua has urged Australia coach Michael Cheika to go with a 5-3 forwards-to-backs split on the bench.

The centre is back in the Australia fold after signing a deal with Rugby Australia and the Rebels, whom he will join at the end of the Premiership season with Leicester Tigers.

Cheika opted to go with six forwards in the series against Ireland, which would leave Toomua facing a battle to be involved.

“My suggestion would be to go 5-3 and we have a specialist 10-12 on the bench,” he said.

“I’ve been lucky enough to play 20-something games in the last year anyway, so I think I’ll be ready if I get called upon. Hopefully I get that opportunity.”

In the New Zealand camp, backs coach Ian Foster says if Beauden Barrett is feeling any pressure from the challenge for the number 10 shirt from Richie Mo’unga, he is not showing it.

“You get lots of chatter in this game, and it comes and goes,” Foster said.

“I see the chatter as being a positive one. It’s actually about Richie, and we’ve been able to grow the last 12 months to a point where we’ve now got three 10s we’re pretty excited about.

“The fact Richie has put his hand up and nailed a great campaign and had his first Test match time in June, we think is a massive positive for us.” News wire is powered by opta

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