Israel Folau to stay with NSW Waratahs 28/08/2013 By Waratahs Rugby Media Unit Israel Folau today re-affirmed his commitment to the NSW Waratahs, signing a two-year deal with Waratahs Rugby and Australian Rugby Union that will keep him in rugby and at NSW until at least the end of 2015. After bursting on to the Super Rugby season with a try-scoring debut against the Reds in Round 2, the 24-year-old went on to finish as the tournament’s second-highest try scorer before becoming a dual international with his first selection for the Wallabies against the British & Irish Lions, scoring a double in his June Test debut. Speaking from a NSW Rugby development clinic at Fairfield High School, near where he grew up in Sydney’s south west, Folau said he was excited to be continuing his rugby journey. “I’ve really enjoyed my first year for the Waratahs and being with the Wallabies,” he said. “Next year is going to be an exciting year for the Wallabies and Waratahs and I’ve still got more to offer, that’s the reason I decided to stay. “From day one at the Waratahs, I’ve really enjoyed the company of the boys and the coaching staff, it made my transition a lot easier. “We’re a young group and I think we can go to the next level in terms of the way we want to play. Michael (Cheika) has been a very positive influence for me, next year is going to be exciting and I want to be a part of that.” VIDEO: Israel Folau with students at Fairfield High School. An exceptional athlete, Folau was born in Sydney and brought up in the south west suburb of Minto, near Campbelltown, attending Westfields Sports High School in Fairfield West. Aged 23, in February this year he took the rugby world by storm, becoming an instant success after converting from rugby league, where he was the youngest international rugby league player ever to represent Australia (18 years and 194 days). In making his Wallaby debut against the Lions in June, he became the only player in history to successfully compete at the highest level in all three of Australia’s football codes. Among those to have been impressed by his transition is HSBC Waratahs Head Coach Michael Cheika, whose vision for the squad was a key factor in securing Folau’s signature back in December 2012. “Israel Folau has had an incredible first season of rugby and to have him re-sign for a further two years with so many people in the market for his signature makes us extremely pleased,” said Cheika. “Israel is a quality player and a quality person and having this type of man playing in our team is only going to help us achieve our goals over the next two seasons. “His contribution to his team, both on and off the field, has been invaluable and the potential for him to become one of the most influential players in the game over the next two years is a truly exciting prospect.” Coming in the lead up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup and an exciting new Super Rugby season, the move sets up a rugby union career that could eclipse Folau’s achievements in rugby league, where he earned eight caps for the Kangaroos, including playing in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup. With 2014 Waratahs memberships launched next week, Folau’s announcement is great news for NSW supporters who are already eager to see him play alongside his close friend-turned-teammate Kurtley Beale, who last week confirmed his return to NSW. To register your interest in 2014 Waratahs membership go to www.waratahs.com.au/membership today.