Israel Folau expects his battling NSW Waratahs to face an improved Queensland Reds side and warns they can’t afford another sluggish start, after getting a wake-up last weekend.
The Waratahs have lost momentum following their first-round 30-10 spanking of the Reds in Sydney.
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A 32-15 away loss to the Brumbies was followed after a bye by a 30-26 home defeat by the Highlanders, who led 30-0.
Conversely the Reds have started to show encouraging signs under co-interim head coaches Matt O’Connor and Nick Stiles, following the sacking of Richard Graham after a 22-6 home loss to the Force in round two.
They fought back from a 16-0 deficit away to Melbourne to lose by two points and then squandered a late ten-point lead to draw 25-25 with the Blues in Brisbane last weekend.
Folau, who is happy with his own early season form, identified better ball retention as a key area the Waratahs needed to improve.
“On the weekend we just overplayed our hand and made too many basic errors,” Folau said.
“It was a big wake up. Having the week off on the bye, we started slowly, it’s something we can’t afford to do.”
NSW have dominated their recent battles against the Reds, winning the past five encounters and conceding just 28 points across those games.
But the Wallabies No.15 has no doubt the Reds outfit his side play in Brisbane will be superior to the one that was well beaten in Sydney.
“After their performance on the weekend they are heading in the right direction by the looks of things,” Folau said.
“We can’t take any game lightly for us, especially losing the last two games.
“We don’t need anything to get motivated for that game. It’s definitely something all the players look forward to.”
Folau is also looking forward to the upcoming three-Test home series against newly crowned Six Nations champions England, who completed a Grand Slam in their first tournament under former Wallabies’ coach Eddie Jones.
“We always know that England are a good side, so we never take them lightly, but it’s probably put more excitement into them coming over here in June,” Folau said
“Everyone is looking forward to that time and they are in great form, so it’s not going to be easy.”
Folau, meanwhile, believes the creation of a specially designed headband will help research into the issue of concussion.
Sensors at the back of the brainBAND measure the force of an impact and LED lights indicate the level of the hit: yellow, orange and red for high alert, meaning a player should be taken off the field for assessment.
“I think it’s a great concept,” said Folau of the prototype developed through Samsung’s Launching People program.
“I’d definitely use it for training and then if it works out well, I’m open to wearing that in a game for sure.”