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Cheika edges closer to Folau switch

AAP logoAAP 31/10/2016 Joe Barton

Israel Folau's best position is fullback, according to Michael Cheika but the Wallabies coach is seriously mulling over a move which would have the misfiring weapon line up against Wales at outside centre.

Cheika has so far resisted calls - which have existed since a World Cup in which Folau was below his extremely high standards - to move the former rugby league star into the midfield.

But it is believed that will change this week against Wales at Millennium Stadium on Saturday (Sunday morning AEDT), with Cheika poised to shuffle his backline ahead of the opening clash of their Spring Tour and grand slam attempt.

The change is coming about to cover for the injured Samu Kerevi - the rookie outside centre whose season was ended with ankle surgery this week.

Folau slotted into the outside centre role after Kerevi was substituted after picking up the injury against the All Blacks last week, and in the proposed changes he would don the No.13 jersey while the classy Dane Haylett-Petty would move from the wing to fullback.

The alternative would be draft in 40-Test veteran Tevita Kuridrani, a constant in last year's successful World Cup run.

"There's a possibility of (switching Folau to centre). We've used him up there before in different times even though he's wearing 15," Cheika said on Monday.

"Then you've got Kuridrani who is well and truly experienced in that position too.

"We've got a few options there. We'll see how the training week pans out and try a few different options today and tomorrow."

Folau has gone seven Tests without crossing the tryline - the longest drought of his decorated 48-Test career - but any move would not be done in the hope of finding his best position, as Cheika insists that is and always will be at fullback.

"It's always fullback, for mine," Cheika said.

"Now that doesn't mean he can't come up and play in the front line sometimes.

"But when you can diffuse the high ball like he can and you can counterattack like he can, I think those skills are always there.

"Last week we played him up in the front line a bit as a different type of threat and we could pull him back and do something different this week.

"The thing is it's not about 'what's his best position' it's about how he can play his best every game."

Cheika believes there's little difference between how involved Folau will be, regardless of the number on his back.

"For us and the style we play, once you get out of the set piece we've got some very clear roles and no matter whether he was playing 13 or 15, his role would be the same after that anyway," he said.

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