Israel Folau and Damian McKenzie shine on debut in Japan

·1-min read

The newly named Japan Rugby League One kicked off its inaugural season over the past weekend as the likes of Damian McKenzie and Israel Folau made their debuts.

Filling in for fellow All Black Beauden Barrett, who departed after their loss in last season’s league final, McKenzie donned the 15 jersey for Tokyo Sungoliath for the first time.

The Kiwi started well with a successful jackal at the base of the first ruck of the game, which turned out to be a shootout.

106-point contest

The final score was 60-46 as the Sungoliath defeated Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo at Anjinomoto Stadium.

McKenzie scored 23 points on the day from four conversions and five penalties while he also impressed massively in attack, playing a lot at first receiver which enabled him to unleash his creativity and flair.

Last weekend also saw ex Wallaby Folau make his return to rugby union after a relatively unsuccessful stint trying his hand at the other code after his controversial fallout with Rugby Australia.

Folau scored two tries in his debut for Shining Arcs Tokyo-Bay Urayasu in their 24-23 win over Kobelco Kobe Steelers.

The full-back seems to be back in full flow following stints in France and on the Gold Coast.

Japan Rugby League One’s opening weekend finished with the Black Rams, Canon Eagles, Sungoliath and Shining Arcs all in the play-off spots – the impact of Folau and McKenzie helping their respective sides to an early lead.

Going forward, rugby fans across the globe will have their eyes on Folau to see if he can keep up his new-found form following a dry few years.

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