McKenzie warns Folau of rugby potholes - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

McKenzie warns Folau of rugby potholes

By Jim Morton & Wayne Heming 29/04/2010 07:13:49 PM Comments (0)

Reds coach Ewen McKenzie has eased some of the best league converts into rugby but has warned Israel Folau there will be no simple path into the Wallabies.

Test three-quarter Folau is expected to advise the Brisbane Broncos on Friday he will activate a get-out clause from his four-year contract.

While Folau is tipped to deliver the bad news to Brisbane on Friday, it is unclear if the 195cm giant will confirm he is joining rugby union's expansion club the Melbourne Rebels on a deal reportedly worth more than $600,000 a season, including a $100,000 top-up from the Australian Rugby Union.

"We thought Izzy was going to be a long term player for us and he still might be, I'm not saying that he's not going to be," said hopeful Broncos coach Ivan Henjak 24 hours before Folau's deadline expires.

"He still could well be, I hope he is."

Folau's switch is set to cost him a place in Australian and Queensland league sides this year but it will give him nine months in rugby to make a tilt at playing for the Wallabies in the Rugby World Cup.

Able to play wing or in the centres, Folau has the raw skills to be a major success story at Super 15 level.

But McKenzie - who oversaw the transitions of Mat Rogers, Lote Tuqiri, Mark Gasnier and Will Chambers - indicated the 195cm try-scoring machine couldn't expect to immediately stroll into the Wallabies side.

Folau's lack of exposure to the 15-man code would make his transition to rugby even more of a challenge, according to the Queensland Reds coach.

He used former Melbourne Storm teammate Chambers, a Queensland Schoolboys rugby rep who took a starting position in the Reds backline, as an example of the difficulty Folau faces.

"Clearly he's a good player but we all know there's a bit of time lag," McKenzie said. "He's a young guy so he can learn.

"Even a guy like Will Chambers had his whole schoolboy rugby career, so he's only been out of rugby for four years, but it's taken him some time to re-assimilate and get the spatial side of it.

"If he hasn't done that before ever that will make it a challenge."

McKenzie could see considerable merit in the Rebels chasing Folau as a marketing tool in Melbourne following two stand-out seasons with the Storm.

The Reds are interested on-lookers with Folau's likely signing possibly helping them to lure Gasnier, who McKenzie coached at Stade Francais, back from France ahead of the Rebels.

"The Gasnier thing is in the hands of the ARU so we'll see how that plays out," the ex-Waratahs coach said.

"The Folau situation might lead to a massive domino effect."

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