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Folau ready for Super battle against Reds in Brisbane

Aap
Monday, February 18, 2013

CANBERRA - In Israel Folau's past life as a Queensland State of Origin powerhouse, Suncorp Stadium was his No.1 playground and NSW his favourite plaything.

The tables have turned on his state allegiance, but the Waratahs' prized Super Rugby recruit would like to think his magic touch in Brisbane hasn't left him.

In Folau's latest reincarnation as rugby new boy, he'll find out on Saturday night what it feels like to run into The Cauldron wearing blue.

The try-scoring phenomenon made humiliating NSW a habit between 2008-10 in the rugby league arena, but now he's in charge of leading the state's return from Super Rugby oblivion.

Folau is following in the footsteps of Mat Rogers, Wendell Sailor and Lote Tuqiri, who all turned their backs on Queensland to make a name for themselves in Waratahs rugby.

He's just two trial matches into his rugby career following a two-year experiment in the AFL, but already Folau has shown signs of being the most damaging cross-code convert there's been.

Queensland's clash against the Tahs is one of two blockbuster Australian Conference derbies this coming weekend, with the flashy Melbourne Rebels to test their credentials at home to the uncompromising Brumbies on Friday night.

If round-one wins to the Rebels and Brumbies were anything to go by, the stakes may have risen in the Australian Conference.

Queensland were shut down 24-6 by the Brumbies in Canberra and slaying Folau and the Waratahs becomes even more vital for the Reds.

"We've already started to work on the Waratahs and that's what you do," said Reds' director of coaching Ewen McKenzie.

"You move on and analyse the next team.

"Our challenge next week hasn't really changed.

"As much as you're disappointed you have to be pretty good at flicking the switch and moving on to the next opportunity."

McKenzie was happy with his team's defence and provided that standard is maintained, he's confident Quade Cooper and the rest of his backline will start to flourish.

"You want to get your defence right from day one and then you build your attack," he said.

There's a long way to go for the Rebels, but their 30-23 win over the Western Force on Friday marked the first time they've won an opening round match in their three-year history.