Israel Folau re-signed with the Australian Rugby Union through 2015, rejecting offers to move back to rugby league as he targets a spot in the Wallabies squad at the next World Cup.
Folau, 24, scored three tries in five Tests for Australia in his debut season after being called up to the national squad following 14 professional rugby games for the Sydney-based New South Wales Waratahs.
After starting his sporting career in rugby league, Folau also had a stint in the Australian Football League before switching to rugby’s 15-a-side version eight months ago on a one-year deal. He was voted the best Australian rookie in the southern hemisphere’s Super Rugby competition this year.
“There were a few options,” Folau said of his decision to re-sign. “I had to weigh up a few things, but at the end of the day I was really enjoying the rugby. There is still a lot more improvement and things I need to tick off in rugby and that’s the reason I have decided to go on for another two years.”
A full-back for the Waratahs and a winger for Australia, Folau joins players including Wallabies captain James Horwill, center Adam Ashley-Cooper and openside flanker Michael Hooper in re-signing with the ARU this year through the 2015 World Cup, which will be hosted by England.
“We’ve got a young squad and a great coach and we’re building our game,” Folau said. “We’re only going to get better. The Rugby World Cup is definitely a draw card.”
In making his Wallabies debut against the British and Irish Lions in June, Folau became the first player to compete at the elite level in Australian rules football and the country’s two rugby codes.
Ewen McKenzie, who replaced Robbie Deans as Wallabies coach last month, said that Folau had made the transition to rugby with “surprising ease” and would improve over time.
“Every week we’re finding more and more ways to use his unique skills,” McKenzie said in a statement. “There’s unlimited potential, he’s got a lot of really good attributes. He’s enigmatic, he just does things a bit differently and it allows us to use him in different ways.”