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Folau a 'mozzie bite' on the game: Voss

Israel Folau announces his retirement from the AFL at Thursday's press conference with GWS coach Kevin Sheedy.

Israel Folau announces his retirement from the AFL at Thursday's press conference with GWS coach Kevin Sheedy. Photo: Wolter Peeters

It's been variously described as an embarrassment for the AFL, an experiment that ended in abject failure and hands-down win for rugby league in the much-hyped battle for sporting hearts and mind in Sydney's west.

But Israel Folau's sudden departure from the game barely made a ripple among the AFL elite in the former league star's home town, with Brisbane great and Lions coach Michael Voss brushing suggestions the farce has caused lasting damage to the code.

Folau walked away from AFL after pocketing $2 million in his role as a fulltime promotions vehicle and very occasional contributor to Greater Western Sydney. He kicked just two goals and earned around $25,000 per possession in a season to forget.

Voss was asked whether the game had taken a serious hit after its second high-profile code hopper gave the game away and said he doubted there would be any real impact from Folau's awkward attempt to become a Polynesian powerhouse in the forward pocket.

"Not in this instance. If it was Chris Judd or Jonathan Brown it would. But they're not walking away from the game - Israel is," Voss said.

"He's come from another code and he's going back to that code, if that's what he chooses to do. But our code will certainly carry on. It's bigger than one person.

"In terms of a black eye, no. A blemish. A mozzie bite. That's it."

Lions midfielder Tom Rockliff wasn't surprised Folau had battled to make a fist of things in AFL. He said Karmichael Hunt, who blazed the trail for Folau's switch, had some sort of AFL background on which to build while Folau was starting afresh.

"It's always going to be difficult. You grow up playing a sport - it's always going to be difficult to change. It didn't work for him," Rockliff said.

Hunt, a success story for the Gold Coast Suns, told the AFL website said he respected Folau for making the call to depart a game for which he had little affinity and even less passion.

"Obviously he felt his heart wasn't in it and I guess it would have been unfair to a lot of people including himself, if he carried on," Hunt said.

"I respect his decision."

Folau is likely to return to the NRL and the Parramatta Eels are firm favourites for his signature. It's a shame AFL fans saw only a clueless rookie instead of a dominant athlete but Ricky Stuart is hoping to reboot a player whose powerful physique and aerial ability helped take league's attacking bombs to a new level.

For now, his contribution to AFL will simply read: 13 games, 80 disposals, 22 marks, two goals, 65 hit outs and 18 tackles.

6 comments

  • I like Mike Pyke. A thinker as well as a footballer. And dedicated. Like Kennelly and Stynes. Need to look inside the heads of cross-code recruits as well as at their body shape and skills.

    Commenter
    David Stephens
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    November 02, 2012, 5:26PM
    • I thought Greg Baum's negative article about Israel Folau was absolute rubbish.

      I think the Israel Folau experiment should be considered successful. Israel was improving all the time and still had a lot of improvement left in him. His last game for GWS was very good. He was taking marks and was a devastating tackler as you would expect. This was mostly a marketing and promotional exercise and in that area it succeeded. He would have succeeded as a player if he had another couple of years. The problem is that he didn't have a another couple of years and neither did the AFL. I think it was a win for all concerned and Israel made a lot of money which will be good for him and his family. He is only 23 and he can pick up NRL where he left off. He may even be a better player now with more stamina, speed and better kicking ability.

      Good on the AFL and Israel Folau for taking a risk. They all parted on good terms as friends. Where is the problem?

      Actually I'd like to see him partnering Greg Inglis in the centres for the Wallabies with Billy Slater at fullback. But this is unlikely now.

      Commenter
      BeyondThe Pale
      Location
      North Ryde, Sydney
      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 7:15PM
      • Does "His heart not in it" mean he didn't try? Looks like D.Stephens is spot on. The man's headspace wasn't where it needs to be. Will need to find a lot of heart if he's to make it in NRL.

        Commenter
        glide by
        Location
        sth melbourne
        Date and time
        November 03, 2012, 6:38AM
      • @ BeyondThe Pale - Actually I'd like to see him partnering Greg Inglis in the centres for the Wallabies with Billy Slater at fullback.

        Now I would love to see that..... that would be great but agree, very unlikely

        Commenter
        Danno
        Location
        Brisbane
        Date and time
        November 03, 2012, 10:23AM
    • Israel Folau was irrelevant to the majority of AFL fans. More like a gimmick than anything. AFL is bigger than a mediocre player from another code trying to learn the game.

      Commenter
      JB
      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 9:54PM
      • AFL fans... Israel who ?
        Happy to take your money but I think you have been had. Trumpeted as a great coup for AFL but really proves, horses for courses.
        Welcome back to the real game.

        Commenter
        up the workers
        Date and time
        November 03, 2012, 1:16AM
        Comments are now closed
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