Israel Folau: Scotland are big and getting better and better

Israel Folau switched to rugby union after spells in rugby league and Aussie rules.  Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images
Israel Folau switched to rugby union after spells in rugby league and Aussie rules. Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images
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Australia full-back Israel Folau feels that Scotland have improved greatly over the last couple of years – and he knows his side will need to be at their best to win at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.

Folau and his team-mates are on a high after last weekend’s 32-8 victory over Wales in Cardiff, but they are not 
taking the challenge of Vern Cotter’s men lightly.

Australia's Rory Arnold is looking forward to the second-row battle with the Gray brothers. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Australia's Rory Arnold is looking forward to the second-row battle with the Gray brothers. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

“The thing about Scotland that I’ve seen from the past or experienced myself is they’re a team that is always in there for the whole 80 minutes,” the 27-year-old said. “They’re a big side, they’re going to come at us physically and they’ve got some really great players in the team and as a unit they seem to have got better and better.

“There’ll be plenty of kicking – maybe not as much as against Wales – but Scotland have got some great kickers that can put the ball in good places. It’s going to be challenging, we’re expecting it to be very tough.

“I wasn’t playing in the World Cup quarter-final last year which went to the wire, it came down to a decision made by the referee and had nothing to do with the players, but I can understand from a Scotland fans point of view that it was very disappointing.

“As players we’ve looked past that. This is a new game for us and we’re going into this game starting from zero. The guys have forgotten about what happened last year.

“We will not be surprised by how Scotland play, but we expect to know that we have been in a game.”

Folau only began playing rugby union in 2012 having been involved in rugby league and Australian Rules football.

Since 2013 he has been a regular in the Wallabies backline and is set to earn his 50th cap at the weekend.

He stated: “I was a little bit confused by the sport at first, I’ve got to say. The hardest part for me was everything that goes on at the breakdown, what to do in there.

“Then I got the opportunity to play and train with the Waratahs, [current Australia head coach] Michael Cheika was the coach there and he gave me the opportunity just to roam and get a feel for the game. That was great for me.

“The journey’s been great. I didn’t expect to play for the Wallabies when I started my career, let alone get to wear the jersey 50 times.”

Meanwhile, Australian second-row Rory Arnold is looking forward to his battle with Richie Gray.

Arnold has impressed in his seven Tests to date and stands at 6ft 10in, the same height as Scotland giant Gray.

Gray and his younger brother Jonny will be out to disrupt the visitors’ lineout, but Arnold has other ideas.

The 26-year-old said: “It’s a personal challenge. The lineout is an area we have to run. If we get good, fast ball there it sets up a good platform for our backs.

“I’ve watched some of the Gray brothers stuff in the 
lineout and they’re very strong there. They’re good at the set piece and they’re pretty solid around the park, strong ball carriers who try to put some shots in as well. That’s what I’ll be expecting from them this weekend when we take to the field.”