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Folau to remain centre of attention at fullback

GET SET: England’s Jonathan Joseph.
GET SET: England’s Jonathan Joseph. Jon Super

ENGLAND is preparing to face Australia with Israel Folau at fullback for the Cook Cup grudge match at Suncorp Stadium this Saturday night.

There has been speculation the former NRL and AFL star would move to the centres with Christian Lealiifano unlikely to play after missing Wallabies training sessions leading up to the birth of his son on Tuesday.

But the visitors believe Folau, who moved to outside centre from the No.15 position at the Waratahs this year, will stay in his natural custodian position for the Wallabies.

"I think he'll play at fullback, but he's a great player, great feet, hard to defend against," England centre Jonathan Joseph said.

"For us, we have a rough idea of how they're going to attack us and how they're going to play and we're very focused on what we're about and what we can impose on them."

Speculation has also surrounded another former NRL star, Ben Te'o, and whether or not he will make his international rugby debut in the centres.

Regardless, Joseph said Te'o would shine at the top level.

"I think he's here on merit. He's performed very well for Leinster (in English rugby)," Joseph said.

"I've played against him a few times and he's played very well in those games.

"If he gets his shot I'm sure he'll take it with both hands."

New England skills coach and former Wallabies assistant Glen Ella said the visitors would be out to change their highly structured stereotype.

"That definitely is the perception down here and we want to prove that wrong," Ella said.

"These guys are good, they've got great skills and they're coming down here to test themselves and they're enjoying it."

The English were well beaten at the breakdown during their 33-13 hiding when the two teams met at last year's World Cup.

England backrower and former Highlanders player James Haskell is well aware of the triple threat of the star Aussie back three; Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper and David Pocock.

"Pocock was obviously a world-class player but he gained legendary status after the way he performed in the World Cup," Haskell said.

"Fardy was the unsung hero but he was great (and) Hooper, when I came over and played against him he was probably one of the best players I played over my entire time in Super 15.

"We know exactly what it's about but as a player you've got to have every confidence that you can match them."

Topics:  israel folau test match


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