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Folau will 'get in the way' at GWS

Date

Matt Murnane

High priced: Israel Folau.

High priced: Israel Folau. Photo: Getty Images

CHAMPION goalkicker Matthew Lloyd has cast doubt on Israel Folau's future in the AFL, and fears giving the rugby league convert ''token'' games could stifle the development of young Greater Western Sydney forwards Jonathon Patton and Jeremy Cameron.

Lloyd, who mentored both Cameron and Patton as juniors at the Australian Institute of Sport, says playing Folau would only ''get in the way'' of the Giants duo becoming the league's most lethal one-two punch in the future.

But his view was countered by his former coach at Essendon, GWS coach Kevin Sheedy, who is adamant there is room for all three key forwards.

Just because Folau did not rise through the normal AFL developmental ranks should not mean his unique talent deserved less opportunity to flourish, Sheedy said last night.

Lloyd told The Age yesterday that the Giants had no choice but to play No.1 draft pick Patton alongside Cameron as much as possible, leaving Folau as high-priced insurance in case of injury.

''If Cameron had have gone into the draft, he would have fought Patton for the No. 1 pick. That's how highly those two are rated,'' Lloyd said of the pair, who have already been compared to himself and former Bombers teammate Scott Lucas after Patton's impressive debut against Richmond on Saturday.

''So you've just got to play them week in and week out and I just don't see how Israel fits in,'' he said.

''I understand there is pressure to play him [Folau], but if it was purely a football decision, I don't think there is a position at all I would play him in.

''I think they are going to be in a compromised position for the next 18 months, picking him for promotional purposes more than playing purposes.''

Lloyd, who disagrees with Sheedy's contention that all three can play in the one forward line, said he would be surprised if Folau stayed in the AFL when his contract expires at the end of 2014.

''Unless he improved dramatically and he's got a real desire and passion to keep going … he would just look across and see Patton and Cameron and all the other great key-position players they've got and think to himself, if I'm trying to beat these guys for a spot I'm kidding myself,'' said the Coleman medallist, who kicked 926 goals for Essendon.

Folau has two years to run on his lucrative contract, and GWS - which is expected to re-sign several key youngsters this week - is delighted with his progress and his work promoting the game in the rugby league stronghold.

''No one knows what's going to happen,'' Sheedy told The Age last night. ''If you never make decisions and you don't try to develop people from other sports, then you never know what we are missing out on.

''Look at what happened with indigenous players, or the Irishmen. Somebody said then that you are wasting your time.''

Sheedy said Lloyd was entitled to his opinion, before pointing out that ''he has never coached and never put a list together.''

''He's not a risk-taker, otherwise he would be trying league coaching,'' he said.

It is understood that Folau, who is on the way back from a hamstring injury, is undecided about his future post-2014, and his management won't enter into contract negotiations until the middle of next year.

''If he makes a good fist of it, then he will probably be like [Gold Coast's] Karmichael Hunt and extend his contract,'' Folau's agent David Riolo said yesterday. But he admitted there was always ''plenty of interest'' from NRL clubs.

One factor in whether Folau will continue to play AFL could be that when he comes out of contract, the NRL will have negotiated a new broadcast deal. That will give its clubs more salary cap room and more money to throw at the former rugby league star.

Lloyd said he believed Folau had served his initial purpose to lift the club's profile in western Sydney. But he said the Giants' future success would work against him, predicting Sheedy will come under pressure next year to drop Folau to give its young stars more game time as GWS wins more games.

28 comments so far

  • While Matthew Lloyd is pretty handy for speaking his mind, the unfortunate part is he usually takes aim at the easiest of targets.

    Hunt looked like a numpty last year too. You can only judge Folau as a first year player.

    Commenter
    mark
    Date and time
    June 18, 2012, 8:46AM
    • Lloyd is paid to make 'big' statements and loves to take a good chunk out of people. He has made his role, the 'harsh critic' of the AFL commentary system. Issy is just his pay-cheque this week.

      Commenter
      Al
      Location
      Souf Yarra
      Date and time
      June 18, 2012, 9:14AM
    • Hunt still looks like a numpty - albeit a very high priced numpty

      Commenter
      Gaz
      Location
      Yarrawonga
      Date and time
      June 18, 2012, 10:57AM
  • It's quite obvious that Izzy won't make it with the Giants and that he'll be going back to League very soon. He is not an AFL player and his recruitment was just another silly act in the whole misguided GWS circus.

    Commenter
    Jono
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    June 18, 2012, 8:52AM
    • cue sniper (lloyd) jokes, NRL jokes and other usual dribble from the usual keyboard warriors.... in all seriousness this kid is going to make a mark in the AFL if he decides to stay long term.. an amazing athlete and well suited to our great game...so excited! :)

      Commenter
      johnson
      Location
      syd
      Date and time
      June 18, 2012, 8:56AM
      • If ya last names's Hunt, Lloydy's on your case!

        Commenter
        bomber
        Location
        Ballarat
        Date and time
        June 18, 2012, 10:20AM
    • Agree with Lloyd. If you can't get the ball then you shouldn't be out there regardless of what you're on. The novelty value of Hunt and Folau is paper thin now and Folau would need to triple his output to make him worthwhile. Typical Sheedy to dismiss Lloyd's comments in that fashion. He's always taken the cheap shot and played the man not the ball. Keep it up Lloydy. You are the bravest and smartest footy expert in the business and you've taken more risks saying what you really think than most of the other fence sitters combined.

      Commenter
      Slammer
      Location
      Crannie
      Date and time
      June 18, 2012, 8:58AM
      • Went to the GWS vs Tigers game. GWS looked very impressive and great facilities too at Skoda Stadium. They will be winning games very soon, with or without Folau. He's done his job already and good on him. Both Lloyd and Sheedy I think have valid arguments so an interesting discussion.

        Commenter
        Rob
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        June 18, 2012, 9:33AM
        • I also took my son down to the footy on the weekend and was impressed by the Stadium and the competitiveness of the Giants. We were down amongst the Richmond supporters and even they acknowledged just what special talents the Giants have been able to draft in Patton, Cameron , Shiel etc. Seems people never learn that taking pot shots at the easiest targets like Folau only backfires as was the case with Hunt, he will come on with another pre season and just imagine him with the 3rd best opposition back on him. The future looks bright for the Giants.

          Commenter
          Paul
          Location
          Central Coast
          Date and time
          June 18, 2012, 11:32AM
      • I'm sure the same comments were made about Hunt last year and look how he is going now definately in GC best 22. If Folau is in the same situation at the end of next year then maybe questions need to be asked but at this early stage you can't wirte him off yet.

        Commenter
        Jez
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        June 18, 2012, 9:38AM

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