Reds hail their Toua de force
RUGBY UNION: While happy to sing the praises of New South Wales Waratah Israel Folau following his eye-catching Super Rugby opening round hat-trick, Reds halves Quade Cooper and Will Genia are equally excited about the potential of their own high-speed fullback Aidan Toua.
Folau's hot start to the season last weekend had Wallaby teammates Cooper and Genia waxing lyrical with superlatives - Genia openly admitting he didn't think the former rugby league international would be as good as he is and expected even more improvements.
But when the subject turned to young Toua, who reminded fans of his blinding speed scoring a scintillating try in the Reds' 27-17 upset of the Brumbies in Canberra, both Cooper and Genia found it difficult to contain their excitement.
Two knee reconstructions and a spate of injuries have reduced the recently-turned 24-year-old PNG-born Toua to just six appearances.
But admirers say he has shown enough in a handful of games to suggest he can be rugby's new entertainer.
"Aidan is a fantastic player," said Cooper, who loves how Toua backed himself on the big stage.
"He showed his class as a young rookie stepping up the first game of the season.
"It was always going to be tough but he showed us some very fast moments.
"That's what you want from your teammates, for them to trust their own ability.
"We all trust his ability and so do the coaching staff.
"From a player's point of view, we love what he offers to the team.
"There are not many people out there who can do some of the things that he can do, so we're fortunate to have a guy like him in our team."
Genia shared Cooper's appraisal of the budding Reds star.
"For a guy who's had two knee recons and numerous stop-start injuries with his hamstrings and lower back, it's great to see him playing so well," Genia said.
Folau and Toua will oppose each other in Sydney on Saturday, Cooper predicting a tough battle with both sides posting impressive opening-round wins.
"It's always a fierce battle in any sport, Queensland versus NSW, in rugby league, rugby or any sport, it's one we all look forward to as a team and as a state," added Cooper, who needs 10 more points to overhaul former No.10 Elton Flatley's record of 629 points.