Greater Western Sydney Giants head coach Kevin Sheedy speaks to Israel Folau before before his retirement from AFL. Photo: Getty Images
Greater Western Sydney coach Kevin Sheedy has described Israel Folau as ''one of the most honest people I've dealt with'' and harbours no ill feeling towards the serial code-hopper.
Sheedy also speculated Folau had the potential to represent the Wallabies before a possible move back to the NRL as early as 2014.
After two seasons in the AFL, the Kangaroos international turned down overtures from the Parramatta Eels to join Super Rugby's NSW Waratahs on a one-year deal.
The cut-price contract, reported to be in the vicinity of $250,000, is peanuts compared to the $6 million, four-year deal Folau inked with the Giants.
Folau, 23, asked to be released from the final two years of his deal in November after averaging six disposals and kicking two goals in 13 games.
''I've got no problems with his character, he's always told us the truth and I actually admired him for that,'' Sheedy said.
''They did mention that it could've been rugby, but that was not in my landscape of thinking.
''Obviously everything was pointing to the Parramatta Eels.
''I've been around the game for 45 years and I think Israel Folau is one of the most honest people I've dealt with. When he felt AFL wasn't his game in the end, he told us the facts and let us get on with business, which is a fair thing to do.
''What he does now, it could be rugby for a year then NRL after that.
''You only have one career and it goes very quickly.''
Sheedy expected Folau's kicking to be one of his strengths in the 15-a-side game after working heavily on that aspect of the game during his AFL stint.
''His kicking was one of the best parts of his game, and it'll be an acquisition when he goes to rugby,'' Sheedy said.
''Once he knows and feels comfortable in that arena, I think if he's loving and liking it, he'll go all the way.
''He's got the speed, he's got the agility … it'll be exciting for rugby.''
Giants co-captain Callan Ward admitted he was disappointed Folau walked away from the AFL, but respected his decision to take on his third football code in four years.
Folau played for the Melbourne Storm and the Brisbane Broncos in the NRL, along with eight Tests for Australia and eight State of-Origin games for Queensland, before switching to the Giants last year.
''I seriously believe he had some serious potential (in AFL) and I wish he did stick at it, but he hasn't and that's his choice,'' Ward said.
''Israel's been great for our footy club and is still a great friend of ours.
''I think he's been dealt with a bit harsh because as soon as he announced he was leaving (AFL), league jumped straight on to that without him saying anything. Playing at the Tahs is what he wants to do so good luck to him.''