RATINGS CO-LEADER: Julian Wilson during the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach at Winkipop in Victoria last month.
RATINGS CO-LEADER: Julian Wilson during the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach at Winkipop in Victoria last month. Ed Sloane

High hopes for tour co-leader Wilson as they head to Rio

SURFING: Trent Munro, a former world tour event winner at Rio, says there's more expectation on Julian Wilson in the post-Mick Fanning era.

But he believes the Peregian Beach talent has the skills to win anywhere on the globe.

The 29-year-old heads to Rio, the fourth stop of the 11-event circuit, as tour co-leader with Brazil's Italo Ferreira.

And Munro expects Wilson to be in the thick of the action there.

He believes the natural footer is Australia's top contender for the world title, especially after the recent retirement of three-time champion Fanning.

"I've been watching Julian before he came on tour and he's definitely a talented surfer," Munro said.

"And I guess a lot of weight is probably on his shoulders with Australian surfing at the moment with the retirement of Mick.

"He's definitely leading the charge for the Australian guys and hopefully he can keep being consistent and solid and hopefully win the world title for Australia."

Munro said the conditions at Rio can be unpredictable so surfers need to be versatile and adaptable, which he said Wilson is.

"I think he's well rounded to win any event," he said.

"It's just the luck factor and the equipment (which could affect the result).

"He sets himself up pretty well to be competitive and to put it to the best at most locations."

Fanning was the last Australian male to win a world title, in 2013.

Munro, who reached a career-high ranking of six, at one stage led the 2005 world tour.

He had solid results at the Gold Coast and Tahiti and he won at Bells Beach, beating Andy Irons, before things unravelled at Fiji.

So he can relate to Wilson's current position.

"It certainly opened up my eyes to world title campaign discussions and things like that," he said. "It's a lot to take on but I'm sure he's mature and got the right people in his corner to sort that out."

That Wilson is this year's tour joint leader is something in itself given he's battled a shoulder injury.

Munro beat compatriot Mark Occhilupo to win the Rio Surf International in 2001. Australian Taj Burrow won in the same region the next year before the Brazil leg of the tour went to other locations.

It returned to the river city in 2011 but no Australians have won there since.

This year's edition is set to start on Friday.



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