Folau's decision correct: coach
Israel Folau Photo: Getty Images
AFL coaching guru Mick Malthouse says Israel Folau's decision to quit his Greater Western Sydney contract is a ''no-brainer'', with the Giants ready to use the salary cap freedom to pounce on potential recruit Kurt Tippett.
The three-time premiership coach thinks the loss of Folau, recruited from rugby league with a big pay cheque to raise the profile of AFL in western Sydney, is no big deal.
''It's a great convenience for Greater Western Sydney, him out of the salary cap and Tippett in,'' Malthouse said.
''It's a no-brainer - one wasn't equipped for the game and the other one's a very good footballer.''
Malthouse, who was in Canberra on Saturday as part of a book tour, said he did not think Folau proved to be a good promoter of the game.
''Not really, I wouldn't have thought so.
''I admire him for changing over, he's got some great athletic ability but he wasn't born with a football in his hands, and it was always going to be very, very difficult, the way I saw it, to adjust to the game.
''At the end of the day you can see that he was really struggling with the mechanics of the game, where to get, where to stand, how to react to the game, now that he's decided to leave … it's a great opportunity now for GWS to open up that salary cap hole for Tippett.''
Malthouse officially takes the reins at Carlton on Monday. With the Blues finishing 10th in the premiership race this season, Malthouse's priority is returning them to the top eight.
''It's going to be a big challenge, a massive challenge, but I took Collingwood over when they were on the bottom, West Coast were 11th of 14 clubs, and Bulldogs were well down the ladder, so it's not foreign to take on challenges, and this one will be a beauty.''
■The AFL's latest effort to spread the gospel in the form of this weekend's UK exhibition match between the Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide at The Oval has not attracted much interest from the British media. But, as shown by the code's aggressive forays into New South Wales and Queensland, the cashed-up AFL is not easily discouraged and has its sights set on putting a team in New Zealand down the track.
Tony Woods, the AFL's international development manager believes there are plenty of players to be gleaned from other countries.
''For me that really crystallised the vision of the wider footy public to see what can be done,'' Woods said.
''Does the next Mike Pyke [Canadian, Sydney] come from New Zealand or the US or maybe even somewhere in Europe?'' said Woods, who claims the code aimed to double its overseas participants within four years and the number of foreign players on AFL club lists.
''We have set a participation target in 2016 of over 200,000 participants outside of Australia which will make the international segment the third highest behind Victoria and New South Wales,'' he said.
''So that will be significant. We will set a target that we have up to 38 international players on AFL club lists by 2016 [compared with just under 20 at present], so that is an aggressive target.''