Folau factor another headache for Origin Blues
A potential Origin headache ... Israel Folau. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
WHILE the majority of the league world is keen to welcome Israel Folau back to the fold, you could understand if Laurie Daley wasn't doing cartwheels.
The NSW coach already faced an enormous task to prevent Queensland from claiming yet another series - and now Folau's imminent NRL return has just made it tougher. While Brent Tate and Darius Boyd did a sound job on the flanks for the Maroons, the former GWS Giant is likely to slot straight back in to the three-quarter line.
''It's just another obstacle we will have to face,'' Daley said. ''It's still an exciting challenge. He's no certain walk-up because Tate and Boyd did such a good job this year, they've got a bit of depth. That just makes our task all that more exciting knowing we'll be taking them on with all of their best players available.''
During his retirement announcement, Folau admitted it was difficult watching the interstate series during his AFL stint. ''When I first left it was hard to watch,'' Folau said. ''Obviously before I made a decision to come across those were the type of things I was thinking about. In the end I was still watching the boys and supporting the boys but I had to do what I had to do with … the AFL.''
The NSWRL is already preparing for the 2013 series off the field by setting up True Blues, an old-boy network of NSW players to support the squad. The new entity has trademarked the name and is about to release a logo. The move further distances the organisation from the NSW Origin Legends run by Chris Anderson and Max Krilich following claims the ex-Blues body didn't supply its financial records for scrutiny. ''We've made it clear we have no association with the Legends,'' NSWRL chief executive Geoff Carr said. ''We've never had any control over where their money goes. We felt we needed an entity inside the league to make a contribution back to grassroots and to Origin. To be fair, we don't know where the Legends give their money to because they are a separate corporate entity and have their own board.
''The reason we decided to sever ties is we had very little association with what they did and what they are about. There was a perception they were a part of us and we were involved in everything they did, but the reality is we weren't. The board decided to have [its] own corporate identity and our own association with ex-players, including those who played for NSW pre-Origin.''
The new organisation will hold a series of fund-raisers in regional areas to help revive the game in the country. ''We'll bring past players and the whole show to town and the profits will stay there,'' said corporate events manager Paul Langmack.
''We won't be making any money out of it but we'll be improving the brand and helping the grassroots, which has been neglected.''