Folau is a class act... and there's more to come, says Genia

6:02am Saturday 30th November 2013

LEIGH Halfpenny or Israel Folau? It's a tough choice but Australia scrum-half Will Genia didn't take long to provide his answer, writes Chris Kirwan.

The Wales full-back has had a remarkable 2013 in which he kicked Wales to Six Nations glory and then won man of the series in the Lions' success down Under.

The 24-year-old has been nominated for the IRB Player of the Year award and is on a 10-strong shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

But opposite number Folau has not been too shabby himself, scoring eight Test tries to be within one of a Wallabies record and fast becoming their biggest attacking weapon with his strength, agility and aerial prowess.

The Aussies' number nine was very respectful of Halfpenny – "Leigh was outstanding for the Lions and Wales in the Six Nations and it's great to see him recognised, because he is a great player" – but would plump for his teammate.

"Leigh's bloody good but I'd pick Israel – who would you rather run at you?!" said 25-year-old Genia, who has never lost to Wales.

"Izzy is a phenomenal athlete," said Genia. "He is an unbelievable player, great in the air, running the ball, in defence, making try-saving tackles and scoring tries.

"You have absolute faith that when he gets the ball he will get over the gain line and give you momentum.

He's a special player.

"I always knew he would be good but I thought it would take him a bit longer to hit his straps.

"It is scary to think how good he could get because full-back is a difficult position with having to understand when the kick and positioning, he will get better at those things with time."

The full-back has plenty of improvement to come and so, seemingly, do the Wallabies under new coach Ewan McKenzie.

After a disappointing defeat to England they have got back on track with victories against Italy, Ireland and Scotland.

"I expect it to be a tight game against Wales," said Genia. "This is our last game of the year and the excitement levels are up; it's almost like a Grand Final and we want to finish the year off well.

"We are in a good place," he continued. "We've got a new coach and are building with Ewan trying to establish a new culture, and the players are buying into it."


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