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04th Jun 2018

Australian rugby writer hits back after Israel Folau’s unfortunate comments on Ireland

Patrick McCarry

Back in September 2011, three days out from their World Cup encounter with Ireland, Australian forward Radike Samo admitted that he did not know much about Sean O’Brien at all.

The Reds star was honest enough to make the concession but given the fact that O’Brien had just been named European Player of the Year did not look good for him.

O’Brien and Ireland went out that weekend and climbed into the Wallabies, winning 15-6 and playing better than the final scoreline suggested. O’Brien was superb in the match and hunted green and gold jerseys with zeal. Stephen Ferris, who had famously rag-dolled Will Genia in that game, declared:

“I bet he knows who Sean O’Brien is now.”

Seven years on and Israel Folau is not aware of recent history. He is also not aware of the impressive run the current Ireland team are on.

The Waratahs and Australia fullback made some unfortunate comments about Joe Schmidt’s side when he faced the press and rugby writer Alex Broun

Asked to assess the strengths and threats of an Ireland team that has won 12 Tests in a row, including a Grand Slam, Folau commented:

“To be honest, I don’t really know too much about the Ireland side.

“I’m sure as we get into the week we’ll explore their strengths and weaknesses as a team and we’ll go from there.”

A rookie mistake from the 29-year-old, 62-times capped Australian.

Sport 360’s Alex Broun was not one bit impressed with Folau’s comments, nor was former Munster and Ireland centre James Downey. Broun said:

“I don’t know if Folau was down-playing things but he said he didn’t know anything about Ireland and hadn’t watched any videos yet. How he, being the great player he is, could miss the extraordinary rise of Irish rugby is beyond me!

“I’m full of nothing but admiration for the structures in Ireland, the national team and Joe Schmidt. What Leinster have done this year is extraordinary and what Ireland did during the Six Nations was the same, and all without players like Sean O’Brien. Hats off to them.”

Downey is not buying into Folau’s comments and Australia head coach Michael Cheika playing the hosts up as underdogs.

“That Folau deflection, of him not really seeing Ireland play,” he began, “the guy is an international player and they are playing Ireland next week. Surely he has seen videos.”

Downey believes many of the current Ireland squad would fare much better if and when they are asked about Australian players as there is ‘an obsession’ with Super Rugby in Europe but the same can not be said for the Aussies.

Leinster’s Scott Fardy, who represented Australia with distinction for years, admitted earlier this season that he had not watched any PRO12/14 and Champions/Heineken Cup rugby when he was living Down Under.

The First Test between Ireland and Australia is on Saturday and Folau will surely have a few Irish names imprinted on his memory [and body] come full-time.