Folau can make huge impact - Gibson

 Dec 06,2012
Written by: Editor

Waratahs backs coach Daryl Gibson believes new signing Israel Folau has the potential to match the impact which Sonny Bill Williams made on the game.

Williams' offloads revolutionised rugby and Gibson, who was part of the Crusaders' back-line coaching team when Williams made his Super Rugby debut, feels Folau's vertical leap could do the same.

"Sonny brought to union some skills he had from league and he's changed our game," Gibson told Fairfax Media.

"Israel, particularly with his aerial ability, could potentially do the same.

"It's not a skill we're particular adept at. He spent two years catching and kicking (in the AFL) and we'd be foolish not to utilise that skill."

Gibson said he has never seen anything like Folau's ability to leap and catch the high ball.

"And what I haven't seen in union a lot is the ability to catch the ball above your head, and that's a skill he's going to bring to our game," explained the former All Blacks centre.

"Absolutely (it could change the game) and what it will change is teams' ability to defend us.

"If the backfield is worried about his aerial game, then it obviously opens up opportunities elsewhere on the field.

"We're going to have to exploit that."

Folau has already spoken of his desire to play for the Wallabies and revealed that the prospect of taking on the All Blacks at Test level appeals to him.

Gibson said Folau's move to union has already created waves in New Zealand.

"I got a number of texts from people back in New Zealand who were excited to see him go," he revealed.

"A few (Super Rugby) coaches and obviously players (sent messages). It's neat that they're aware we've signed someone of his calibre."

Folau, who Waratahs coach Michael Cheika said will play in the back three, trained for the first time with the Waratahs on Thursday but will initially be shielded from contact work while he gets to grips with the intricacies of the ruck.

A major challenge which he faces is to re-design his physique after shedding seven kilograms to prepare for the endurance required in AFL.

Tags: Super Rugby |  Waratahs | 

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