Israel Folau will be joined by his younger brother after Waratahs head coach Daryl Gibson confirmed John Folau has been offered a training spot with the side.
Gibson said Folau – a rugby league convert like his brother – impressed after switching from the NRL and joining the NRC’s Sydney Rays.
“John has an absolute raw quality to him, he’s an excellent athlete,” Gibson told The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Georgina Robinson.
“[He is] very similar to Israel when he first came over in 2013. It’s a question of him learning the game and our ability to teach him the game, and how quickly he can pick that up. He certainly has all the raw qualities of an athlete, so it’s about how fast we can turn that into a rugby player.”
Folau spent the last three years with the Parramatta Eels, making eight first grade appearances after a test debut for Tonga in 2014.
Gibson was an assistant with the Waratahs when Michael Cheika convinced Israel Folau to give union a try, so he is not unfamiliar in dealing with a rugby league convert.
“[John] has similar traits to Israel in that he has a very inquisitive mind and wants to learn the game,” Gibson added.
The 24-year-old is currently in the thick of pre-season training with the Waratahs and will be reunited with his brother when Wallabies players rejoin the squad in early 2019.
Listed at 112kg and 193cm, he shapes as a potential replacement for the recently departed Taqele Naiyarovoro, who scored a team-record 15 tries for the Waratahs in 2018 before shifting north to join Gallagher Premiership side Northampton Saints.
Gibson admitted replacing the production of the 123kg behemoth was a big ask.
“It’s going to be a difficult one for us to replace 15 tries – I’d say 10 of those tries [Naiyarovoro] had no right to score – so it’s a big hole we’re looking to fill.”
With Gibson revealing that some of the Waratahs’ Wallabies would be rested throughout the season ahead of the World Cup, perhaps the younger Folau will get his chance to emulate his brother in 2019.
In other news:
Tell us what you think about the Rugby World Cup and you could win £100