Rugby - Deans plays down impact of Folau code-change speculation

Media speculation surrounding code-hopper Israel Folau's possible return to rugby league does not affect the fullback's selection prospects for the Wallabies, Australia coach Robbie Deans said on Sunday.

Reuters

The 24-year-old's excellent Super Rugby form in his debut season with the Waratahs has already earned him a place in the 25-man training squad for the three-test series against the British and Irish Lions starting later this month.

His selection has coincided with media speculation about him returning to rugby league, where he represented Queensland and Australia before his listless Australian Rules Football stint with Greater Western Sydney last year.

"I'm not thinking about it. We've got a challenge in front of us. These decisions will be made in time," Deans told reporters when questioned about Folau's commitment.

"If he enjoys what he does here with us now and succeeds, then we've got a better chance of him wanting to repeat that experience.

"It won't affect selection - he's here now," the New Zealander added of the player, who Australian media claim is close to reaching an agreement with NRL side Canterbury.

"He's committed to the game, he's playing the game and he's playing it well enough to warrant inclusion. That's the only thing that concerns us. What happens in the future, who knows?"

The Wallabies head into the series grappling with a spate of injuries that saw Sitaleki Timani, Scott Higginbotham and Digby Ioane dropping out of the training squad on Sunday.

The team will almost certainly miss the services of flankers David Pocock and George Smith but Deans was not fretting.

"I gave that up a long time ago. You've just to roll with your circumstances and make the most of it," Deans told local media.

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