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Folau will pose "a big threat" says Gatland

Jun 20, 2013

Coach Warren Gatland says his British and Irish Lions will target Israel Folau in Saturday's first Test in Brisbane.

Ex-rugby league international Folau, 24, will start on the wing, having spent his first five months in union mostly at full-back.

"We know what a quality player he is," said Gatland. "But probably the hardest position to defend is winger.

"He will receive some sort of attention defensively to see how strong he is."

Folau turned out for Queensland in the State of Origin rugby league series and, aged 18, became the youngest player in Kangaroos history.

"The Australians in the past have not been afraid to move their players around defensively to different positions," Gatland noted. "Whether they do that with him or not, or whether he runs from full-back on a few occasions, we are not sure.

"I think he has been very good for the Waratahs at 15. The first game I think he was a little bit lost, he defended on the wing.

"But he has had a bit of time and experience since then, and I am sure being in camp for three weeks they have worked really hard with him defensively as well."

Gatland, who named the giant George North in opposition to Folauon the Lions' left wing, concedes Folau will pose "a big threat" to the tourists with his aerial power.

"It has always been a massive strength for him, he is an incredibly talented footballer," he added.

"He is naturally gifted, is able to ride a tackle very well and he has the ability, particularly from his league background, to offload and get the ball away.

"I am pretty excited about the match-up between him and George North. It is almost worth the fare [ticket price] in itself. I think it will be pretty special."

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