Rugby: Folau shifts to wing for Waratahs

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika says Israel Folau's best position is still fullback, despite shifting his star recruit to the wing for Saturday night's Super Rugby clash with the Brumbies in Canberra.

Ben Volavola will wear the No.15 shirt for his run-on debut following impressive form off the bench in the opening two matches.

Volavola's combination with five-eighth Bernard Foley caught the eye of the coach and he's hoping the Southern Districts product can be just as effective starting.

Folau began at fullback against Queensland and Melbourne, but his best touches came last weekend against the Rebels when he moved to the wing in the second half.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans confirmed on Thursday Folau was "not that far away" from a shock Test debut against the Lions in June.

Cheika "couldn't be asking for it to go any better" when asked about Folau's transition to rugby and emphasised the positional switch was simply a tweak in tactics.

"I think Ben's just made it too difficult for me not to pick him," he said.

"He's playing very well and he's forced me to make some changes because his combination with Bernard works well and hopefully we can keep that working.

"It's pretty clear we see (Israel) as a fullback.

"Like I've always said, the back three can interchange. Who knows? He might end up back at fullback during the game at some stage."

Volavola has mainly trained at five-eighth but was a star at fullback for Southern Districts in last year's Shute Shield in which they made the grand final.

The 22-year-old from Oatley said it was "a dream come true" to start for the Waratahs.

"I just need to grab it with both hands," he said.

"I've tried to lift the boys when I came off the bench ... hopefully this week, we can step up from the get-go."

As a result of the reshuffle, Tom Kingston drops out of the squad altogether, with Lachie Turner moving to the bench.

Wallabies playmaker Berrick Barnes has again been ruled out with his knee problem and will be reassessed next week.

There's better news with centre Rob Horne, who is nearly certain to be available for the following clash with the Cheetahs.

With Wycliff Palu to miss the Brumbies match, Dave Dennis moves to No.8, Mitchell Chapman to blindside flanker and Sitaleki Timani returns from injury at lock.


Waratahs squad: Ben Volavola, Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tom Carter, Drew Mitchell, Bernard Foley, Brendan McKibbin, Dave Dennis, Michael Hooper, Mitchell Chapman, Kane Douglas, Sitaleki Timani, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson. Res: Luke Holmes, Paddy Ryan, Greg Peterson, Lopeti Timani, Pat McCutcheon, Matt Lucas, Lachie Turner.