Lions Tour - Folau set to debut in first Test against Lions

Israel Folau's remarkable rise in his third football code is set to be stamped with selection for Australia in the first test against the British and Irish Lions when Wallabies coach Robbie Deans names his team on Thursday.

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Israel Folau (Reuters)

The 24-year-old former rugby league international will be front and centre at a media conference with Deans on Thursday, a team spokesman confirmed, and barring an unforeseen injury should be named in the Wallabies backline.

Folau's rise to the pinnacle of Australian rugby union comes just four months after making his top-flight debut with Super Rugby's New South Wales Waratahs.

A powerfully built and explosive runner, Folau floundered in an ill-fated two-year stint in Australian Rules football after crossing from Australia's National Rugby League in 2011.

But he has taken to the 15-man code with aplomb, becoming Super Rugby's equal highest tryscorer at the final stage of the season.

Deans will also be encouraged by Folau's outstanding aerial skills after watching the Lions unleash a barrage of box kicks in their losing 14-12 effort against the ACT Brumbies in Canberra on Tuesday.

"Seriously, I've not seen him drop a high ball in two weeks of training," rising Queensland Reds flanker Liam Gill told local media of Folau's form at the Wallabies training camp.

"I didn't realise the incredible athlete he is and how big he plays."

Folau's selection is unlikely to be welcomed in all circles, with the Brumbies' World Cup-winning coach Jake White commenting last month that it would devalue the Wallabies' shirt to allow the rookie to a start ahead of longer-serving candidates.

But the prospect of Folau and fellow livewire winger Digby Ioane facing off with the Lions' hulking Welsh flyers Alex Cuthbert and George North is a tantalising one for local rugby pundits.

"He's already made a quicker transition than I did and he's ready to make a big mark on Test rugby right from the start," former Australia winger Lote Tuqiri, one of the country's most successful dual internationals, told News Ltd newspapers.

Australian media have already named their Wallabies' starting 15 after the team's training combinations on Tuesday, which had in-form Brumbies back Christian Lealiifano at inside centre and Berrick Barnes at fullback.

Kurtley Beale, who has played scarcely more than half an hour of top-flight rugby in nearly four months due to battles with injury and alcohol problems, trained away from the main group and appears set to play off the bench on Saturday.

Forward Wycliff Palu has been cleared of injury, the Wallabies spokesman said, and is likely to line up at number eight with Michael Hooper at openside flanker.

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