Ewen McKenzie insists he won’t be telling the Waratahs where to play the Wallabies’ superstar asset Israel Folau next Super Rugby season.
The Australian coach believes Folau is most effective as a fullback, but NSW may look to shift the country’s key strike-weapon to outside centre in 2014.
Waratahs boss Michael Cheika has three class players at his disposal in Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley and Folau, who could all argue they’re best suited to wearing the No.15.
Cheika has said he won’t make a decision on positions until the pre-season, however it’s understood he likes the idea of utilising Folau’s power as the go-to man in the backline, like Sonny Bill Williams was for the Chiefs.
After scoring 17 tries in five matches on the Spring Tour, the Wallabies are eager to use their enterprising time in Europe as a platform for a breakthrough season next year.
Folau was their attacking centrepiece at fullback, and the Wallabies need him to continue to develop his game.
However, McKenzie says he won’t interfere if Folau is effectively played out of position by the Waratahs.
“Whether they’re slightly out of position … they’ve got a whole raft of good players all capable of playing different positions,” McKenzie told AAP.
“I’m not going to tell Michael Cheika where to play people. I respect the Super Rugby teams have to do what they have to do.
“I’ll watch them for the skill contributions they put on the field and the attitude and intensity they display.
“I’ll obviously talk to Michael Cheika and see how he’s going to do it so I understand what they’re trying to achieve.
“It’s not going to mean it’ll line up with what I’m doing.
“The best players can adapt, that’s why they’re the best players.”
McKenzie says a key benefit of using Folau at fullback is the impact he can have on the thought process of the opposition.
“The teams who want to kick it means he touches the ball and he gets to play. If they don’t want him to touch the ball they don’t kick it to him so that’s also a good outcome for us,” McKenzie says.
“Even I was sceptical at the start because he didn’t have background in the game and came from different sports … but clearly he has a terrific attitude, he’s a professional operator and he doesn’t get distracted. He absorbs ideas and concepts.”