Date: August 20 2012
There were no shortage of knockers lining up to sink the boot into Israel Folau after another lacklustre performance on the weekend, but few would have imagined the AFL's own website suggesting the poster boy for its push into rugby league's heartland should return to his old code.
As Kevin Sheedy yesterday launched another spirited defence of Greater Western Sydney's prized signing, Folau was on the receiving end of some scathing criticism from what many would perceive as an unlikely source.
In a damning assessment of Folau's three-possession effort against Melbourne, the league convert was described as being ''totally disinterested in making any type of meaningful contribution to help his team''.
''To be frank, Folau seemed to be sulking as he trudged from one end of the ground to the other, with zero impact on the contest,'' the report said.
Sticking with his adopted code ''would appear to be an almighty waste of his sublime athletic talents and it seems now he would be best served cutting his losses and returning to a game that made him a superstar''.
While the piece will not be helpful in dispelling doubts about Folau's suitability to the game, the AFL said yesterday it had no objection to the article appearing on its website.
''There's no direction the AFL executive give the website, they're a separate editorial entity,'' an AFL spokesman said.
''Their role is to write whatever they think is appropriate and from there they manage their relationship with the club and their readers.''
Sheedy said criticism of Folau was unfair and said the former Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm star had performed quite well compared with big men such as Canadian Mike Pyke, Nic Naitanui and Jonathan Brown.
At the corresponding stage of their careers, Pyke had collected 78 possessions, Brown 115 and five goals and Naitanui 130 compared with Folau's 71 from the first 12 games of his career.
''This guy hasn't even played AFL until last year,'' Sheedy said.
''I think the expectations are too much. It's ridiculous to even start saying he can't make it.''
Of Folau's body language against Melbourne, Sheedy said: ''No one enjoys footy when you only get the ball four or five times.
''The ball's not coming in the way like a superstar midfield that's ramming it down your throat. Some of our young players don't even see his leads.''
Folau is unlikely to find the going any easier in the next fortnight as the Giants, competitive in recent weeks against other sides in the bottom four, take on mid-table St Kilda and finals contender North Melbourne in their final two games of the season.
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