Israel Folau has declared himself a fish back in water
after starring in his debut for the NSW Waratahs in a Super
The former rugby league international and short-term AFL
player bagged two tries, had a hand in another and was even
yellow-carded in an eventful 24-16 win over the Melbourne
Rebels in Hobart.
After two years trying to find his feet with AFL's Greater
Western Sydney, Folau said he felt right in his third
professional football code.
"I felt really comfortable to be quite honest," he told
reporters at North Hobart Oval.
"It's like I never left a game like rugby.
"I felt really relaxed throughout the day and that's the way
I felt coming into the game."
Asked if he'd missed that feeling of dominating a game, he
said: "I've missed it for two years."
Starting at fullback, Folau reaped the rewards of Waratahs
coach Michael Cheika's new attacking brand of rugby.
He was rarely called to kick and announced himself to the
rugby world when he swerved to beat three defenders in just
the 12th minute.
The celebration said plenty with the former Melbourne Storm
and Brisbane Broncos star punching the air with delight
before being embraced by his new teammates.
Folau repeated the dose with the last play of the match,
beating two to cross in the left corner while playing outside
He might have had a third try in the 34th minute but
unselfishly offloaded for winger Cam Crawford when he could
easily have crossed himself.
"That last try I just found myself in the right spot at the
right time," he said.
"I think today I can learn a lot from the game and there's
certainly a long way to go in terms of learning a few things
in both attack and defence."
Cheika was delighted with the performance of his new star,
who also spent time on both wings.
"Positionally (at fullback) he was probably in much better
sync than I thought he might be," Cheika said.
"Obviously his natural talent showed on a couple of occasions
very well and I think he looked pretty comfortable really.
"All he has to do is enjoy himself and make our team and his
talent will do the rest from there."
Folau was yellow-carded in the 54th minute and admitted he'd
understood little about his breakdown offence.
"I was a bit confused but once I got off and the boys
explained it," he said.
Compounding the four tries to two loss for the Rebels was a
suspected fracture to Cooper Vuna's right shoulder blade.
"With our top side I thought we were competitive but those
young blokes, they'll learn from that and the experience will
be good for them," assistant coach John Muggleton said.