Lions Tour - Deans: Folau will only get better

Israel Folau's stunning brace of tries in his test debut against the British and Irish Lions will only steel him to reach greater heights, according to Australia coach Robbie Deans.

Rugby Championship - Wallabies sticking 'tight' despite criticism

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Wallabies fullback Israel Folau (L) and teammate Christian Leali'ifano (AFP)

In the space of four months, the explosive 24-year-old back nicknamed "Izzy" has gone from rugby union debutant to a nailed-on starter in Australia's already formidable backline, leaving Wallabies fans salivating for more highlights in Saturday's crunch second test in Melbourne.

Deans, whose gamble on the uncapped Folau ruffled a few feathers Down Under, said his spectacular debut in the Wallabies' 23-21 loss at Lang Park was "important" for the former rugby league international.

"It was a genuine cauldron that he was entering, there was a lot of scrutiny, lot of discussion around his selection in the first instance," Deans told reporters on Thursday.

"So it was important for him to get off to a flyer and he did that.

"I've got no doubt that it will make entering the second test much more familiar context and one that he'll look to push on."

Folau's return to Melbourne is a home-coming of sorts for the Sydney-born back, who kicked off a brilliant rugby league career in the city with top-flight team the Melbourne Storm.

Folau scored a winning try on debut as a 17-year-old for the Storm and finished the season with a record number of tries by a first-year player.

Although he walked out of the NRL for a lucrative, if unsuccessful, two-year stint in Australian Rules, Folau has taken the 15-man code by storm.

He has become the country's top try-scorer in the southern hemisphere's Super Rugby competition this year, at fullback for the Sydney-based New South Wales Waratahs.

Now, just one match into his Wallabies career, the newly-minted winger has raised comparisons with New Zealand's hulking Jonah Lomu and sparked a mantra of "get the ball to Izzy" echoing around Wallabies camp.

Folau will team up with powerful fullback Kurtley Beale and much-vaunted one-test winger Joe Tomane in a potent back three at Docklands Stadium.

"Like Robbie said, it would be nice to get the ball to the likes of Izzy and Joey out on the edges and use the space out wide," Wallabies centre Adam Ashley-Cooper said.

"Now that Izzy's got that first game under his belt, it's exciting to see what he can achieve in game two."

After brushing off tackles with ease and burning away from hapless defenders at Lang Park, Folau can expect extra attention from the Lions defence at Docklands Stadium.

That would be unlikely to bother the proven big-match performer, now hogging the spotlight in his third football code.

"I learned a lot from that first game. I reviewed that game and saw a few opportunities that I missed, and where I can pick up in the second game," Folau told reporters.

"To be honest I couldn't have asked for a better first game but that's done and dusted now.

"Like the rest of the boys, I'm looking forward to getting out there on Saturday."

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