Folau to play where he's best for Waratahs

Darren Walton

NSW Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson if offering Israel Folau no positional promises despite conceding the Wallabies star's best position is fullback.

After a blinding first half from her husband, Folau's wife Maria took to Twitter during last Saturday's Super Rugby loss to the Blues ask why the Waratahs continually shunted Folau to the wing.

While Folau has publicly supported Gibson's decision to start him on the right flank twice this season, his wife's post suggested he may have shared discontent with her behind closed doors.

Gibson on Thursday named the controversial code-hopper at fullback for Saturday's clash with the defending champions and front-running Crusaders in Christchurch.

But he didn't rule out using his attacking trump on the wing again as he did for the past 20 minutes against the Blues after Bryce Hegarty's second-half injection.

"We've had a lot of honest conversations with Israel around playing fullback or wing and, as far as we're concerned, he'll play where the team best needs him," Gibson said.

Off contract at the end of 2018, Folau has been linked to a move to the Queensland Reds, which doesn't surprise Gibson at all.

"We know Israel is in a final contract period. I'm sure he's had discussions with a number of people," the coach said.

"We're just really keen to keep him here. You've seen what he did last week. To me, he underlined the fact he is one of the best fullbacks in the competition."

Despite being moved around at NSW, Folau is almost certain to again wear the Wallabies' No.15 jumper for the June Test series with Ireland.

"The issue at any level for him is making sure he's getting enough touches on the ball to be influential in a game," said Wallabies assistant coach Stephen Larkham.

"His record last year was pretty amazing. He got four doubles in the international season to start the year off, which was amazing.

"The goal will be to get him on the field firstly and then get him in a position where he's touching the ball in effective positions as much as possible.

"On the wing, you'd have to set scenarios up for him. If he's fullback, he can probably set his own scenarios up.

"Talking to him, I know he wants to get as many touches on the ball as possible."

Larkham said regardless of where Folau played his Super Rugby, keeping the three-time John Eales Medallist in Australia was paramount.

"Anyone who's in the top 25 players in Australia at the moment is very important to us, with the World Cup a little over a year away," he said.

"Our preparations certainly have started and Israel's certainly a player we'd love to keep in the game. There's no doubt about it, he's a spectacular player.

"I enjoy working with him and certainly enjoy watching him play."