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A Giant waste of time and effort?

Israel Folau handballs for the Giants during a match against Fremantle last season.

Israel Folau handballs for the Giants during a match against Fremantle last season. Photo: Getty Images

ANALYSIS

Back in the pre-season, the critics came for Israel Folau.

He looked all at sea playing AFL: a powerhouse which couldn't find its switch, a reservoir of potentially destructive energy lying dormant. Watching him, one was reminded how difficult a game AFL is to play — how much of it depends on instinct, and knowing when to attack the ball and when to hold back. Especially for a newcomer to a barren forward line in a struggling, youthful team.

It seemed Folau had, at best, just a couple of genuine opportunities each quarter in which he was given an opportunity to compete. It felt unfair, watching him, and one could point to the inauspicious debuts of key positon greats such as Jonathan Brown to highlight how difficult it can be for a big newcomer — one who might eventually go on to bigger things.

But by the end of the season, it was apparent that Folau needed more time — in a much more congenial place than the GWS firsts — before he would be competitive at AFL level. And, yes, maybe he would never measure up. It was blindingly obvious, in fact ... he rarely got to more than two meaningful contests per quarter, and he didn't know how to stay involved in play without being sent into the ruck.

So he leaves the code too soon for us to ever know if he could have made it as a mature-aged recruit. About the only thing we can definitely draw from the experiment is that it takes more than just physical attributes and hard work to make it as a forward in the AFL.

Certainly a lot more than money and hope.

Maybe it needed love? Kids who love footy and spend a childhood scrapping and jumping in competitive packs gradually learn all the tricks Israel needed to know. That's what we call "instinct" when those kids grow up and we watch them play senior football.

As an imposing, clean-living, well-paid rugby league champion, Israel had most of the attributes one needs to be a success in the AFL.

Everything except one priceless, totally free asset.

A life-long love of the game.

33 comments

  • It was never gonna happen. He was carried for the full 2 years. What a joke

    Commenter
    cynic
    Date and time
    November 01, 2012, 3:50PM
    • Maybe he should try politics next........like Mel.

      Commenter
      mark
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      November 01, 2012, 5:57PM
  • And, this year's winner of the No Sh%& Sherlock Award goes to.......

    Commenter
    JB
    Location
    Vermont
    Date and time
    November 01, 2012, 3:51PM
    • A giant waste of money...

      Commenter
      David
      Location
      Tasmania
      Date and time
      November 01, 2012, 3:53PM
      • Imagine doing the reverse, taking an AFL player and putting them in an NRL team. Not only would they struggle to adapt I suspect they would end up on a stretcher after the first tackle! League and Union players switch codes quite regularly and it can be an issue to adapt, so I can't imagine how this experiment was going to end any better either!

        Commenter
        Mike
        Location
        St Kilda
        Date and time
        November 01, 2012, 3:58PM
        • The last line sums it up really. He just went where the money was. I dont blame him. But it this really just shows how out of touch AFL imperialists are. I remember when Folau and Hunt defected to the AFL from the NRL and the the AFL press was predicting more of the same. I couldn't stop laughing.

          Commenter
          agh
          Location
          Melb
          Date and time
          November 01, 2012, 3:58PM
          • It just goes to show how money doesn't make you happy - oh and yes AFL is the most boring game on the planet...including Soccer.

            Commenter
            Les
            Date and time
            November 01, 2012, 3:58PM
            • Oh really LES? The most boring game on the planet? Well at least unlike soccer AFL doesn't have penalty shootouts. I'm a Union man and enjoy watching the odd NRL game but perhaps it was just too many rules for the big man to take in like 'do knock the ball forward' and 'no offside'. He can go back to the 'Gentlemen's Game played by Thugs' where he'll be happier but first he needs to shrink his head or enlarge his neck.

              Commenter
              Torch
              Date and time
              November 01, 2012, 5:14PM
          • Fell very sorry he did not make it, but he gave it a real go. GWS should now have some room for Tippett? Did they delay the Issy announcemnt for a KT one?

            Commenter
            george
            Date and time
            November 01, 2012, 3:59PM
            • A waste of time and money but it was there for the taking.

              Commenter
              Steve MacNeil
              Location
              Cronulla
              Date and time
              November 01, 2012, 4:02PM

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