AUCKLAND – Wallabies star Israel Folau broke the all-time record for Super Rugby tries with his 60th touchdown for the Waratahs against the Blues in Auckland on Saturday.
The prolific fullback surpassed Doug Howlett's 59 during his stints at the Highlanders, Hurricanes, and Blues between 1997-2007, with the New Zealander needing 104 games to reach his target.
In contrast, Folau set the new mark in his 96th match and will likely run away with the record, having recently signed a new four-year deal with his club until the end of 2022, putting to bed any concerns that he may move overseas.
The record-breaking try came from a Bernard Foley cross-kick which Folau plucked out of the air to score, although it was not enough to save the Waratahs with the Blues taking the game 32-29.
Folau called it "a huge honour and a privilege" to head a list that also includes Caleb Ralph (58 tries) Joe Roff (57), Christian Cullen, Bryan Habana and Stirling Mortlock (all 56).
"There's some great names on the list. But it's a team effort and without the team those things wouldn't be possible," he said.
Many of Folau's tries were set up by fellow Wallaby and Waratah Foley, who said he knew Folau was something special when he saw him at his first training session.
"He did something freakish down the edge, he caught a ball around his toes and flicked it back inside, and this was a guy who hadn’t played with a rugby ball for three years," he told the Rugby Australia website recently.
"I just remember thinking what a freak he was, or he is, from day dot.
"He can score tries other blokes can't, just by the way he beat defenders or attract defenders but still have the power to score a try," he added.
Since making his Super Rugby debut in 2013, Folau has scored at least one try against every one of the 17 different teams that he has faced.
His seven against the Queensland Reds is his biggest tally against a single opponent.
The divisive 30-year-old, who switched to union from rugby league in 2013, currently has the fourth most tries in Australian Test history.
His rugby union future seemed in doubt after the devout Christian wrote on social media last year that God's plan for gay people was hell unless they repented.
The comments sparked an uproar and led to him being called in by Rugby Australia officials, prompting speculation he might return to rugby league or move overseas.
But rugby chiefs ultimately decided against any disciplinary action and Folau has continued in the Test side and to score tries for the Waratahs.AFP