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He's a loyal Folau, says Sheedy

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Folau signs with the Waratahs

Israel Folau speaks to the media about his excitement in regards to signing with the NSW Waratahs.

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ISRAEL Folau may have turned his back on a lucrative rugby league career in part because he was to be used as an anti-AFL propaganda tool.

The code-hopping Folau, who in a shock move this week signed a one-year contract with Super Rugby team the NSW Waratahs rather than, as had been expected, sign with NRL team Parramatta, was uncomfortable with the prospect of criticising AFL football after spending two years with expansion club Greater Western Sydney.

''I think there is an underlying comment out there that the NRL wanted him to bag the AFL, and he wouldn't do it,'' GWS coach Kevin Sheedy said on Wednesday.

Israel Folau has been described as a man of integrity by Kevin Sheedy.

Israel Folau has been described as a man of integrity by Kevin Sheedy. Photo: Getty Images

''Maybe Israel Folau was being asked not only to sign with NRL, but also to bag the AFL. I don't think he felt comfortable with that at all.''

Another source claimed Folau had been told he would be expected to renounce his involvement with GWS, state publicly that he regretted having switched codes and become a figurehead for aggressive promotional campaigns in the west. But, having spent the past two years playing the reverse role for the AFL and GWS, Folau was reluctant to be used in the same manner again.

Sheedy has been an interested observer of the backlash from the rugby league world which followed Folau's snubbing of the Eels' offer, which came only after the club and league officials had spent time working out how to fit him inside the salary cap.

''You don't know with NRL clubs, they're a mess upon themselves, just amazing. At least with us [AFL] you have a crack at each other and it's over and done with and you move on,'' Sheedy said.

''There's not one person in the AFL I'm disenchanted with in my life, but up here it's forever. One minute [when Folau left rugby league for the Giants] they've just about banned him, and the next minute they want him back … they've got to sort themselves out, don't they?''

Sheedy said being used in such a manner by rugby league would not have sat well with Folau, for whom he offered strong support. The former Essendon coach vouched for Folau's integrity, comparing it to the strength of character of his Richmond premiership teammates Francis Bourke, Kevin Bartlett and Michael Green, and his former players at Essendon in Simon Madden and Tim Watson.

He said Folau's signing for the Waratahs on a deal worth about $250,000, well below what Parramatta was offering and a huge amount less than his four-year deal with the Giants, should have dispelled suggestions he was a sporting mercenary. Folau would have pocketed $6 million if he'd seen out his contract with the Giants.

The NRL has dismissed any suggestion Folau was asked to take part in an anti-AFL marketing campaign. An NRL spokesman said that no NRL officials had met Folau since he left GWS, and that the only contact had been with his agent. ''We didn't want [him] to be involved in any point-scoring exercise [against the AFL],'' the spokesman said. ''That was not in our interests or his interests.''

Meanwhile, Sheedy, who will oversee his final season in 2013, had little concern about the Giants officially ruling themselves out of the hunt for former Adelaide key forward Kurt Tippett, who will now almost certainly join Sydney in next week's pre-season draft.

''I think we'll pick a player just as good,'' he said. ''At $900,000 a year, we're not picking him … you'd want to have Tony Lockett [for that amount]. I've got a responsibility for the future direction of this club.''

Sheedy said he was more than happy with the likes of Jonathon Patton and Jeremy Cameron as key forward prospects. ''We need a player similar to Tippett, but more of a ruckman,'' he said.

Sheedy said he hoped the Giants' local rival, Sydney, ended up with Tippett, despite his potential to do damage when the sides clash in round 16 next year; Tippett would miss the first derby in round one because of his 11-game suspension. ''He's probably not going to brain us,'' Sheedy said.

With RICHARD HINDS

34 comments so far

  • So Sheedy is suggesting that if Folau returned to rugby league he would be expected to publicly denounce AFL? He's a football player, he's not a prisoner of war captured by the Viet Cong and expected to denounce the United States. Rugby League wanted him back because he's a talented young player, and it just would have been great to bring him home. There wouldn't have been much point in league trying to score points over AFL in western sydney by using Folau - he played for Qld in state of origin, and his club teams were Brisbane and Melbourne. He's not a super-star in a Sydney-centric sense. At any rate, league took too long to put a deal together, and he jumped to the Waratahs. It's Rugby's gain, and the Wallabies could definitely use him. I hope he thrives there.

    Commenter
    Mike
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    December 06, 2012, 9:05AM
    • He chose rugby (union) because;

      1. He will be playing in an international competition against teams from New Zealand and South Africa.

      2. He will probably get to play for Australia, rather than the suburbs of Sydney or Melbourne

      3. It will lead to well paid career in France, Japan or England as opposed to a comparably poorly paid career in Footscray, Carlton or Goldcoast

      4. At the end of his career, he will probably own more than an old sports car and a quarter share in a pub in Ballarat.

      5.Rugby is a better sport

      Commenter
      Boogerman
      Date and time
      December 06, 2012, 10:31AM
      • +1 Booger, great stuff.
        Tiny little local leagues with limited interest outside historical enclaves.
        I can see a future for Rugby, but once soccer takes hold in Australia, AFL and NRL are going to be in serious trouble. They're just not that interesting, are they?

        Commenter
        Puppythruster
        Location
        Brunswick
        Date and time
        December 06, 2012, 10:40AM
      • @Mike & Boogerman... lighten up, boys. Sheeds is doing what he does best... winding the nrl crowd up, and you two jumped right on in. It's all good... Izzy will do great at Ra Ra, after his achievedments in nrl and 2 years in a 360 deg game. And, good luck to the kid, too.

        Commenter
        Crowin'
        Location
        Qld
        Date and time
        December 06, 2012, 10:42AM
      • Oh boogerman, you do love a bit of a troll. He left AFL because he sucked at it and was not prepared to keep on sucking for the next four years while he tried to grasp the game.
        There's more to AFL than either rugby code. That's not to say one is better than the other, just that one is our national game and the others are left overs from the motherland that only a few areas in Qld and NSW care about.
        It's an Australian thing, you probably wouldn't understand.

        Commenter
        kozeyekan
        Date and time
        December 06, 2012, 10:43AM
      • No Boogerman,
        he chose rugby because:
        1. He embarrassed himself at AFL.
        2 He embarrassed the game of AFL
        3. He does not have the ball skills to play AFL
        4. He lacks the stamina to play AFL
        5. He still had to make a living.

        Commenter
        Corbachov
        Date and time
        December 06, 2012, 10:51AM
      • Again, the most amazing thing about this whole saga is Rugby supporters instance that you have the superior sport, when really it comes down to how you were indoctrinated in your youth into liking the sport that was supported by your family.

        Whilst I'm an AFL fan, I quite like Rugby because I enjoy going along with my mates who support it, but at the end of the day your pointless arguments about international competition doesn't help your cause, because most AFL fans are aware that it's only played here and like it that way. The feeling you get from winning a grand final in AFL is no better, but also no worse than winning the Bledisloe cup for a Rugby fan.

        If a player is going to make $1.5 million dollars/year I would've thought it wouldn't matter if it was in the western suburbs of Melbourne or in Essex in the UK. It's still 1.5 Million/year. I would guarantee you wouldn't knock it back.

        Take off the rose coloured glasses you clown.

        Commenter
        b
        Date and time
        December 06, 2012, 10:51AM
      • He was earning way more in the AFL than he'd ever earn in rugby league or union. Maybe, Boogerman, you should just face the fact that if he had been any good at Australian Football then he would have stayed with GWS.

        Commenter
        Laki
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        December 06, 2012, 11:03AM
      • You obviously have no idea about sport and your opinions belong in the Primary School playground.

        Commenter
        Charlie
        Location
        melb
        Date and time
        December 06, 2012, 11:42AM
      • The Wallabies haven't been playing well but they're not that bad that they need a guy who hasn't played the game at a senior level.

        I can't see him making the Waratah's starting 15 let alone the bench. And the Waratahs are rubbish.

        Commenter
        kepler-22b
        Date and time
        December 06, 2012, 11:49AM

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