NZ's Vatuvei wary of bloke dubbed Izzy - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NZ's Vatuvei wary of bloke dubbed Izzy

06/05/2009 07:54:45 AM Comments (0)

By rights, a player dubbed "The Beast" - all 189cm and 112kg of him - shouldn't be wary of anyone on a rugby league field.

But giant New Zealand winger Manu Vatuvei almost sounds in awe of the man he is expected to line up against in Friday night's trans-Tasman Test at Brisbane - Israel Folau.

At 195cm and 103kg, Folau can more than match Vatuvei's intimidating physical presence in what looms as a heavyweight winger showdown.

Indeed, the nickname department is the only place Folau doesn't seem to have Vatuvei's measure - the Broncos flyer has the less fearsome moniker of "Izzy".

Vatuvei has put his hand up to take on Folau - but not after giving what sounded like a character reference for the Brisbane matchwinner.

"He's a pretty strong bloke, he's still only young. He's got a big future ahead of him," Vatuvei gushed.

"I love playing against him. You can see how talented he obviously is - he's a great bloke too.

"I rate him the best winger in the game, definitely."

Vatuvei could also lay claim to the same title after a stellar 2008 in which he notched 16 tries in 17 games to help the Warriors go from eighth to 80 minutes away from the NRL grand final.

Oh, and winning a World Cup trophy with New Zealand also helped his cause.

But it was not that long ago that Vatuvei wasn't the best winger in the Warriors team, let alone the competition.

In May 2007, Vatuvei had nightmares after a shocking case of butterfingers all but handed the Eels a 30-6 win at Parramatta Stadium.

To say he has improved since that horror night would be an understatement.

But Vatuvei knows it won't stop Test pivot Darren Lockyer still asking major questions with his kicking game - especially with Brisbane teammate Folau waiting at the other end.

"For sure they will test me out from the start," Vatuvei said.

"And Israel is great in the air. So I know the high ball is coming. It's the strongest part of Israel's game.

"Israel will be a good test for me. A good challenge, but I like a challenge - especially if it is Folau."

Vatuvei added: "But it (high ball) is something that I have worked on too.

"As you know I have had troubled under the high ball in the past."

Vatuvei flashed his trademark grin - complete with gold capped teeth - when asked if he enjoyed going up against a winger as big as him.

"Big like me? I'm not that big?" he laughed.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news