Israel Folau has given his strongest indication yet that he’ll extend his rugby union career beyond one season after sending a loud message to Wallabies coach Robbie Deans with his second man-of-the match performance in three weeks.
Fullback Folau left numerous defenders clawing at thin air when setting up a try for NSW winger Cameron Crawford and scoring one himself in the first six minutes to trigger the Waratahs’ 72-10 thrashing of Super Rugby newcomers the Kings in Port Elizabeth early Sunday (AEDT)
The fast-improving Waratahs had plenty of reason to celebrate as their 11-try rout of the Kings moved them (30 points) three places up the ladder to eighth, five points off sixth place.
It was their first overseas win in their last 13 attempts over three years.
While there’s been frequent speculation that Folau will return to rugby league next year, the code-hopper suggested otherwise.
“I’m really enjoying my rugby at the moment and I’d like to stay long term and give it a good crack so we’ll see how we go,” said Folau after the match.
NSW coach Michael Cheika didn’t want to get involved in the debate about whether Folau should play for the Wallabies against the British and Irish Lions next month, but was pleased with his progress.
“I think for a player who has only played 10 games of competitive rugby, he’s coming along very nicely,” Cheika said.
“He’s really been doing it on his own. We haven’t told him too much.”
Meanwhile, Queensland (39) missed a chance to at least temporarily move above the Australian conference and competition-leading Brumbies when held to an 11-11 draw by Western Force (18) in Perth.
Queensland are unbeaten in their past six games, but have drawn two of their last three and have scored just one try in their last two fixtures.
“We’re not losing. We’re still getting points out of games but we can do better,” said Reds director of coaching Ewen McKenzie.
It wasn’t the best of nights for Reds skipper and lock James Horwill.
He was substituted at halftime after taking a head knock and was issued with an off-field yellow card after his feet made contact with Force prop Pek Cowan.
Wallabies back Kurtley Beale made an encouraging return for Melbourne Rebels (22) in their 39-33 home loss to the New Zealand conference-leading Chiefs (40) in Melbourne.
Beale, who had missed six games through injury and suspension, set up two tries and broke the line to score one of his own in just over half an hour’s work.
The Bulls (37) lead the South African conference after a 48-14 bonus-point home win over the Hurricanes (28) in Pretoria.
That result apart, it was a miserable round for South African teams, with the Sharks and Stormers (both on 29 points) suffering narrow losses in New Zealand.
The Highlanders (14) finally notched their first win after eight defeats, as they overturned a 15-7 halftime deficit in Dunedin to record a 25-22 victory over the Sharks, who slipped to a fourth consecutive defeat.
Stormers skipper and centre Jean de Villiers scored the only two tries of the match in Auckland, but the Blues (36) won 18-17 thanks to six penalties to five-eighth Chris Noakes.