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The coup that backfired

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Chief sports columnist and associate editor with The Age

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'No surprise' as GWS recruit Israel Folau quits AFL

Our footy experts analyse Israel Folau's decision to quit the AFL.

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KEVIN Sheedy said that in informing Greater Western Sydney of his decision to quit AFL, Israel Folau ''blindsided'' the club. If so, it was by far the best manoeuvre he managed in his two perversely memorable years there.

It is hard to think of a redeeming feature for this experiment.

Its naked purpose was promotion. Luring him to the AFL was a coup at the time but it backfired doubly.

Folau's struggles to turn himself into an AFL footballer became embarrassing for him and Thursday's abandonment was an embarrassment for the AFL.

Spinning desperately, AFL chief Andrew Demetriou said Folau had inspired ''many children'' in New South Wales and Queensland to play and watch AFL. Following that logic, they will now all follow him back to rugby league. Worse (in the AFL's eyes), he will inspire many more children to play and watch league. He is much, much better at it.

Folau did make headlines but so now are Kurt Tippett and the Melbourne Football Club making headlines. Much as the AFL seeks to make all news good news, sometimes it would happily settle for no news. This week is one such time.

Reportedly, Folau was paid about $1 million a year and, plainly, it was not on account of his football ability.

The game could afford the cash but not the principle it embodied - that every game has its price.

Once, Folau admitted the money had been the appeal all along. On Thursday, he admitted he lacked the necessary passion and to persevere would have been to cheat himself.

Though disarmingly frank, the sum of these two admissions is to underscore the smear of grubbiness about the exercise.

Folau, unlike Gold Coast's Karmichael Hunt, always looked lost on an AFL ground. No amount of elite coaching helped. I don't doubt that he tried but all he managed in the end was to reinforce the certainty that, overwhelmingly, footballers are born, not made. All that expensive nurture notwithstanding, nature wins.

Folau knew it. Implicit in what he said was a tinge of embarrassment that he was blocking the place of a natural-born footballer, and the Giants have many.

Meantime, he has lost notionally two of his best athletic years in the code more suited to his skills and dearer to his heart. He said his sojourn with the Giants was not a mistake but he cannot know that for another couple of years.

All that said, Folau presents as a fundamentally decent bloke who became a pawn in a much bigger game, a game between games.

All should hope now that he quickly re-establishes himself in the top flight of rugby league, or else this failed dalliance with AFL will leave a sour taste in the mouths of two codes, ennobling neither. Folau was praised by the Giants and the AFL for his ''courageous decisions'' and ''enormous contribution''. The hyperbole was laughable. The reality is that concerning Israel Folau, the AFL had one goal in mind. He kicked two.

216 comments

  • The Folau experiment was always doomed for failure and yet the AFL heralded it as the great steal from the NRL. Now the AFL is looking really stupid as most kids will be more dtermined than ever to go to the NRL. The Giants will be the great sponge of AFL funds for the next decade and will never turn a profit on their own as the western suburbs of Sdney does not support NRL to any degree let alone an AFL team that means nothing to them.
    Even the successful Swans are still being propped up by the AFL.

    Commenter
    mildura big boy
    Date and time
    November 01, 2012, 7:07PM
    • "... always doomed to failure" very clever statement once it has already happened! Lots of broad, unsubstantiated statements there!

      Commenter
      Elijah Baley
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      November 01, 2012, 7:25PM
    • I thought you were right on the money mate

      Commenter
      OldSchool
      Location
      Bronte
      Date and time
      November 01, 2012, 10:02PM
    • How are the Swans aren't being propped up by the AFL exactly?

      Commenter
      DG
      Location
      Parramatta
      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 2:30AM
    • yep , Mildura big boy , i agree with you , (despite your funny nickname ) I have lived in NSW for 30 yrs after moving from Melb. , and see interest in Aussie Rules restricted to migrants like me and the odd convert. There are amateur comps. and junior teams , almost all struggling to field full teams. This GWS experiment is going to drain AFL $$$ for years before it's finally abandoned. I think both soccer and Rugby League are silly games ,but that's not the point. They are the games the people of Western Sydney want to watch and play and it was and remains sheer arrogance of the AFL to invade their territory.Look at the GWS "crowd" figures. The reason footy is a goer in Sth. East Qld. is there were already established comps. there before Bris. & G.C. Suns established . Same in central Syd. , but not in the Western suburbs. GWS players from interstate will want to go home as soon as they can - it will all end in very expensive tears

      Commenter
      daniel
      Location
      rural nsw
      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 7:15AM
    • The whole Folau farce sums up what AFL has become since the turn of the centrury - all marketing, no substance

      Commenter
      vitas
      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 7:22AM
    • mildura big boy, the facts are that more children are taking up AFL than any other team sport. The Swans win this year will ensure that AFL becomes even more popular in 2013.

      Commenter
      liklik
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 7:40AM
    • "most kids will be more dtermined than ever to go to the NRL"

      Let's hope that most parents have the good sense not to allow their kids to play this silly game for bullies and thugs. Then again, the AFL's off field issues aren't that far behind the NRL's.

      Commenter
      Sianta
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 7:46AM
    • The Swans are still being "propped up" are they? How so? You shouldn't believe every Victorian conspiracy theory, Mildura boy. If you want "propped up" have a look at North, the Bulldogs and Melbourne. Of course GWS will be funded. They are a new club. What is wrong with growing the game?

      Commenter
      Chris H
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 8:06AM
    • Correct.
      I think it is disgusting that a talented man was paid huge amounts of money to NOT do the thing he is talented at. Disgusting values here from the AFL, even as it now looks with one eye at tanking and probably comes out high and mighty against the listless dees. Which, given so many clubs tanked and the priority pick has been removed, and given the AFL failed to heed the messages on it, surely they should just move on. They have done some highly questionable things themselves to go roughshod over values in the name of benefitting the organisation at a higher lievel. I hope this man puts energy into passion now, rther than accepting the gold to spend the prime of his life not playing. I don't play him I think the offer was indecent.

      Commenter
      TC
      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 8:15AM

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GREATER Western Sydney are planning to meet Kurt Tippett next week, as the club explores the possibility of moving some of Israel Folau's marketing millions over to the controversial former Adelaide forward.

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2014 Home and Away

Round 1
Fri, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
COL 46 vs FRE 116 Report Stats
Sat, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
GWS 99 vs SYD 67 Report Report Stats
GCF 87 vs RIC 69 Report Stats
Sun, 16 MarTimes shown AEDT
CAR 87 vs PTA 120 Report Stats
Thu, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
GEE 119 vs ADE 81 Report Stats
Fri, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
NTH 60 vs ESS 99 Report Stats
Sat, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
HAW 139 vs BRI 91 Stats
STK 68 vs MEL 51 Report Stats
Sun, 23 MarTimes shown AEDT
WCE 134 vs WBU 69 Report Stats
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Round 2
Thu, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
RIC 98 vs CAR 86 Report Stats
Fri, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
ESS 86 vs HAW 90 Report Stats
Sat, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
STK 95 vs GWS 88 Stats
PTA 127 vs ADE 73 Report Stats
FRE 87 vs GCF 39 Report Stats
SYD 69 vs COL 89 Report Stats
Sun, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
BRI 68 vs GEE 93 Stats
MEL 30 vs WCE 123 Report Stats
WBU 54 vs NTH 83 Report Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
HAW 137 vs FRE 79 Report Stats
Sat, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
WBU 100 vs RIC 98 Report Stats
ADE 71 vs SYD 134 Report Stats
GCF 114 vs BRI 61 Stats
WCE 83 vs STK 58 Report Stats
COL 76 vs GEE 87 Report Stats
Sun, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS 79 vs MEL 47 Report Stats
NTH 97 vs PTA 90 Report Stats
ESS 138 vs CAR 57 Report Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 72 vs COL 110 Report Stats
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CAR 58 vs MEL 81 Report Stats
PTA 159 vs BRI 46 Report Stats
GWS 83 vs WBU 110 Report Stats
GEE 107 vs WCE 32 Report Stats
GCF 49 vs HAW 148 Report Stats
Sun, 13 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD 48 vs NTH 91 Report Stats
STK 50 vs ADE 136 Report Stats
FRE 113 vs ESS 60 Report Stats
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Round 5
Thu, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 63 vs RIC 106 Report Stats
Sat, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 93 vs NTH 58 Report Stats
SYD 92 vs FRE 75 Report Stats
WCE 56 vs PTA 70 Report Stats
ESS 65 vs STK 81 Report Stats
Sun, 20 AprTimes shown AEST
ADE 137 vs GWS 72 Report Stats
MEL 78 vs GCF 86 Report Stats
WBU 91 vs CAR 119 Report Stats
Mon, 21 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 106 vs HAW 87 Report Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 83 vs ESS 60 Report Stats
STK 79 vs BRI 82 Report Stats
FRE 61 vs NTH 74 Report Stats
Sat, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
GCF 134 vs GWS 94 Report Stats
CAR 92 vs WCE 89 Report Stats
MEL 38 vs SYD 69 Report Stats
Sun, 27 AprTimes shown AEST
WBU 83 vs ADE 92 Report Stats
RIC 52 vs HAW 118 Report Stats
PTA 107 vs GEE 67 Report Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 70 vs COL 104 Report Stats
Sat, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW 175 vs STK 30 Report Stats
GWS 97 vs PTA 132 Report Stats
ADE 67 vs MEL 70 Report Stats
BRI 44 vs SYD 123 Stats
ESS 73 vs WBU 65 Report Stats
Sun, 04 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH 77 vs GCF 120 Report Stats
GEE 81 vs RIC 76 Report Stats
WCE 54 vs FRE 73 Report Stats
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Round 8
Fri, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 107 vs HAW 88 Report Stats
Sat, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
PTA 94 vs FRE 76 Report Stats
BRI 57 vs ESS 65 Report Stats
MEL 83 vs WBU 99 Report Stats
Sun, 11 MayTimes shown AEST
WCE 188 vs GWS 77 Report Stats
Mon, 12 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 69 vs CAR 101 Report Stats
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Round 9
Thu, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 76 vs COL 55 Report Stats
Fri, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 64 vs SYD 114 Report Stats
Sat, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC 74 vs MEL 91 Report Stats
NTH 125 vs BRI 38 Report Stats
FRE 96 vs GEE 64 Report Stats
Sun, 18 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 87 vs GCF 125 Report Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 111 vs NTH 91 Report Stats
Sat, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
GWS 41 vs RIC 154 Report Stats
COL 109 vs WCE 101 Report Stats
PTA 100 vs HAW 86 Report Stats
Sun, 25 MayTimes shown AEST
GCF 119 vs WBU 74 Report Stats
CAR 81 vs ADE 76 Report Stats
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Round 11
Thu, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 148 vs GEE 38 Report Stats
Fri, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 54 vs COL 140 Report Stats
Sat, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL 75 vs PTA 95 Report Stats
BRI 98 vs CAR 91 Report Stats
ESS 104 vs RIC 54 Report Stats
Sun, 01 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE 109 vs GCF 77 Report Stats
WBU 51 vs FRE 89 Report Stats
HAW 94 vs GWS 87 Report Stats
WCE 44 vs NTH 82 Report Stats
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Round 12
Fri, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 107 vs CAR 102 Report Stats
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW 123 vs WCE 79 Report Stats
PTA 129 vs STK 59 Report Stats
WBU 87 vs BRI 95 Report Stats
GWS 66 vs ESS 81 Report Stats
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GCF 74 vs SYD 109 Report Stats
FRE 90 vs ADE 50 Report Stats
NTH 116 vs RIC 88 Report Stats
Mon, 09 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL 28 vs COL 61 Report Stats
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Round 13
Fri, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 90 vs HAW 118 Report Stats
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC 85 vs FRE 105 Report Stats
SYD 98 vs PTA 94 Report Stats
WCE 103 vs GCF 100 Report Stats
BRI 80 vs GWS 125 Report Stats
ADE 109 vs NTH 73 Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 133 vs STK 37 Report Stats
COL 98 vs WBU 106 Report Stats
ESS 77 vs MEL 78 Report Stats
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Round 14
Fri, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC 51 vs SYD 62 Report Stats
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA 128 vs WBU 56 Report Stats
HAW 115 vs COL 86 Report Stats
GCF 118 vs GEE 78 Report Stats
FRE 105 vs BRI 22 Report Stats
ESS 101 vs ADE 92 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS 100 vs CAR 92 Report Stats
STK 70 vs WCE 103 Report Stats
MEL 66 vs NTH 107 Report Stats
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Round 15
Fri, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 89 vs ESS 80 Report Stats
Sat, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW 116 vs GCF 63 Report Stats
STK 73 vs RIC 117 Report Stats
FRE 88 vs WCE 81 Report Stats
SYD 106 vs GWS 60 Stats
BRI 70 vs NTH 66 Report Stats
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
WBU 91 vs MEL 85 Report Stats
ADE 99 vs PTA 76 Report Stats
COL 91 vs CAR 76 Report Stats
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Round 16
Fri, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH 108 vs HAW 88 Report Stats
Sat, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 79 vs BRI 54 Stats
GWS 72 vs ADE 140 Report Stats
GCF 80 vs COL 75 Report Stats
MEL 34 vs FRE 97 Report Stats
PTA 60 vs ESS 62 Report Stats
Sun, 06 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR 151 vs STK 66 Report Stats
WCE 51 vs SYD 79 Report Stats
GEE 69 vs WBU 56 Report Stats
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Round 17
Fri, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ADE 92 vs HAW 104 Report Stats
Sat, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL 36 vs GEE 102 Report Stats
NTH 92 vs STK 33 Report Stats
WBU 94 vs GCF 66 Report Stats
BRI 64 vs WCE 76 Report Stats
SYD 122 vs CAR 51 Report Stats
Sun, 13 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 126 vs PTA 106 Report Stats
ESS 103 vs COL 39 Report Stats
FRE 136 vs GWS 60 Report Stats
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Round 18
Fri, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR 109 vs NTH 86 Report Stats
Sat, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
STK 118 vs FRE 60 Report Stats
GWS 87 vs GEE 94 Report Stats
Sun, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA 72 vs MEL 69 Report Stats
WBU 94 vs ESS 101 Report Stats
Fri, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
WCE 42 vs RIC 59 Report Stats
Sat, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
BRI 110 vs GCF 56 Report Stats
HAW 104 vs SYD 94 Report Stats
Sun, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
COL 82 vs ADE 98 Report Stats
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Round 19
Thu, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
FRE 83 vs CAR 78 Report Stats
Fri, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 79 vs ESS 57 Report Stats
Sat, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 105 vs WCE 136 Report Stats
RIC 89 vs GWS 62 Report Stats
GCF 117 vs STK 64 Report Stats
NTH 79 vs GEE 111 Report Stats
Sun, 03 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL 51 vs BRI 74 Stats
HAW 107 vs WBU 45 Report Stats
COL 76 vs PTA 70 Report Stats
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Round 20
Fri, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC 95 vs ESS 77 Report Stats
Sat, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS 51 vs NTH 126 Report Stats
CAR 97 vs GCF 58 Report Stats
HAW 115 vs MEL 65 Report Stats
PTA 58 vs SYD 84 Report Stats
GEE 81 vs FRE 79 Report Stats
Sun, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 63 vs ADE 168 Report Stats
STK 99 vs WBU 122 Report Stats
WCE 126 vs COL 66 Report Stats
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Round 21
Fri, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR 76 vs GEE 82 Report Stats
Sat, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 127 vs STK 56 Stats
GCF 47 vs PTA 56 Report Stats
ESS 77 vs WCE 74 Report Stats
COL 56 vs BRI 123 Report Stats
ADE 69 vs RIC 79 Report Stats
Sun, 17 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH 111 vs WBU 61 Report Stats
MEL 34 vs GWS 98 Report Stats
FRE 110 vs HAW 91 Report Stats
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Round 22
Fri, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA 140 vs CAR 37 Report Stats
Sat, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH 101 vs ADE 94 Report Stats
ESS 108 vs GCF 89 Report Stats
GWS 67 vs COL 75 Report Stats
WCE 119 vs MEL 53 Report Stats
HAW 94 vs GEE 71 Report Stats
Sun, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 48 vs FRE 106 Report Stats
WBU 67 vs SYD 130 Report Stats
RIC 98 vs STK 72 Report Stats
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Round 23
Fri, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 56 vs HAW 121 Stats
Sat, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR 90 vs ESS 90 Stats
FRE 105 vs PTA 97 Stats
SYD 65 vs RIC 68 Stats
NTH 123 vs MEL 93 Stats
GEE 143 vs BRI 81 Stats
Sun, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
GCF 99 vs WCE 151 Stats
ADE 141 vs STK 62 Stats
WBU 109 vs GWS 115 Stats
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AFL Finals Round 1
Fri, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
HAW 104 vs GEE 68 Report Stats
Sat, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 93 vs FRE 69 Stats
NTH 93 vs ESS 81 Report Stats
Sun, 07 SepTimes shown AEST
PTA 132 vs RIC 75 Report Stats
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AFL Finals Round 2
Fri, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
GEE 92 vs NTH 98 Stats
Sat, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
FRE 83 vs PTA 105 Stats
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AFL Finals Round 3
Fri, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 136 vs NTH 65 Report Stats
Sat, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
HAW 97 vs PTA 94 Report Stats
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AFL Finals Round 4
Sat, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 74 vs HAW 137 Report Stats
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AFL Home and Away
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Sydney Swans 22 17 5 0 142.88 68
Hawthorn 22 17 5 0 140.78 68
Geelong Cats 22 17 5 0 113.77 68
Fremantle 22 16 6 0 130.40 64
Port Adelaide 22 14 8 0 129.92 56
North Melbourne 22 14 8 0 117.04 56
Essendon 22 12 9 1 106.34 50
Richmond 22 12 10 0 105.77 48
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