Sport

Issy going to stay in the AFL?

Israel Folau before his move to the AFL.
Israel Folau before his move to the AFL. Claudia Baxter

ISRAEL Folau might be sporting a new hairstyle and a new body shape, but his presence in the stands at ANZ Stadium on Friday night has done little to mask the most recent round of rumours that he is heading back to rugby league.

Folau is entitled to attend a rugby league match despite the fact he is now playing AFL. That freedom of choice is what is great about living in Australia.

But his timing was deplorable. I imagine his GWS coach Kevin Sheedy and AFL boss Andrew Demetriou were not doing cartwheels when the face of big Issy, sitting in the stands watching the Eels and Bulldogs, bobbed up on Channel 9.

Not pretending to understand the intracies of AFL, I really have no idea whether Folau is actually starting to make a fist of the game, unlike his former Broncos team mate Karmichael Hunt.

But what I can appreciate is that $6 million - reportedly - for four years as a poster boy is a whopping PR deal.

And it would be a cushy arrangement for someone comfortable with their lot in life, has no great ambition and is content with feeding their greed. But nothing in that portrayal fits Israel Folau.

He is an awesome athlete who has already conceded he took the money on offer from the AFL so he could help support his family. And the manner in which he has trained, educated himself and changed his body shape in an effort to make the grade in AFL says he's no sloth.

But surely the time must come when Issy, and the AFL, admits defeat and says enough is enough. Sheedy can say publically with a straight face that Folau will make it in Aussie Rules, but it seems very few believe him.

And Folau hardly convinced the general populous last week when he announced - at Luna Park of all places - that he was committed to GWS for the next two years. Missing was a sparkle in his eye and a conviction in his voice.

When he switched to AFL he said it was for the challenge. I wonder if he watched the recent State of Origin series and considered what a challenge that might be for him now?

No doubt Folau has become a pawn in a much bigger game - a power struggle between Australia's two biggest footy codes. It seems such a shame that he would rather remain obstinate - and maybe even greedy - and not play the game that best suits his talents.

But perhaps he longs to be like Karmichael, and one day kick the winning goal after the siren and suddenly be hailed a legend.

Topics:  afl, israel folau, nrl



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