Money daze in Folau saga
Israel Folau in his first training session with the Waratahs. Photo: Anthony Johnson
WHEN footballers say ''it is not about the money'', it invariably is. What has not been disclosed in Israel Folau's one-year deal with the Waratahs, is a secret top-up of $400,000 from the Australian Rugby Union.
Folau's manager, Isaac Moses, is happy for the public to believe Folau is being paid only $250,000 by the Waratahs, in an attempt to avoid any perception his client is a money-hungry, code-hopping mercenary.
Despite Moses' denials that Folau is receiving any top-up, it is understood he will receive $400,000 from the ARU in addition to the Waratahs' $250,000, meaning he will receive $650,000 for his one-year in rugby union.
ARU acting CEO Matt Carroll refused to comment on Folau's top-up, saying: ''We never have and never will divulge what we pay.''
Waratahs chief executive Jason Allen said: ''The ARU have definitely assisted us but don't declare the amount with us. It's their choice to talk about salaries.''
The ARU $400,000 top-up is at the high end of the scale, consistent with the monies paid rugby league defectors Wendell Sailor, Lote Tuquiri and Mat Rogers, who switched in the peak of their careers.
Folau has wasted two years in AFL land, losing confidence and tackling/passing skills, as well as about 10 kilograms of muscle mass, although Allen points out that the ARU is also looking at him as a Sevens player.
The ARU payment to Folau is guaranteed to cause rumblings among Australia's Super 15 teams, with players warned the code is tightening its money belt and imposing a strict salary cap.
If the Wallabies are furious at Folau receiving $650,000, they will be feral at the knowledge Queensland Reds player Quade Cooper will earn a minimum $750,000 next year.
Friday's press conference announcing an extension of Cooper's contract did not mention an ARU top-up of $350,000 to his $400,000 deal with the Queensland Reds. The top-up is exclusive of match payments.
That's the reward you get for referring to the Wallabies under coach Robbie Deans as having a ''toxic'' culture.
Cooper's manager, Khoder Nasser, and Moses - both not currently accredited with either the ARU or NRL - have been able to sell the idea their clients were coveted by NRL clubs.
St George Illawarra did not make an offer for Folau, yet the media has reported he rejected the Dragons because he did not want to travel far from his west Sydney home.
Kellyville to Kogarah compared to Kellyville to Waratahs headquarters at Moore Park? Isn't there a back road to WIN Stadium, Wollongong?
Yet the public is expected to believe Folau wanted to stay close to his mum and dad, despite being offered a mint by the Dragons when, in fact, no offer was made.
Sure, Folau's initial dealings with Parramatta were choked in NRL red tape, with the NRL's salary cap auditor Ian Schubert pricing him at $400,000 for salary cap purposes and refusing to backload the contract.
Eventually, Schubert made a more realistic valuation of $250,000 and did approve higher payments in the final years of the deal.
Folau blamed this vacillation for his rejection of the Eels deal but the reality is he will receive more in 2013 from the Waratahs than Parramatta and he can join the Bulldogs in 2014, where the chief executive, Todd Greenberg, is best mates with Moses.
Yet the public has been told by Greater Western Sydney's lunar coach, Kevin Sheedy, that Folau went to rugby union because the NRL would have demanded its prize recruit bag the AFL.
The softly spoken, God-fearing Folau was unsuited to any crusade to convert anyone to AFL and incapable of broadcasting any mischief about it.
This is not to say he isn't calculating and considered when switching between locations and codes. His big career decisions go hand-in-hand with real estate manoeuvres.
The Storm was very upset when he left to play with the Broncos. Folau told Storm coach Craig Bellamy that his father, Eni Limoni Folau, dictated the move. Bellamy approached the father who said, ''It's Izzy's decision.''
A home in the Brisbane suburbs of Boronia Heights was bought on behalf of the Folau family before Israel joined the Broncos; it was sold to Israel's parents for $350,000 two weeks after Israel played his last game for the Storm, the 2008 grand final. When Israel announced he was signing with the AFL, ownership transferred again to Folau Investments whose directors are Israel and his father.
On October 31, 2010, Folau Investments bought a Kellyville property for $773,000 and Izzy and his family live there.
On November 18, 2010, Izzy began training with the Giants. If Folau is very measured in what he does, maybe the ARU directors are as well.
It's been pointed out that the Arbib Report on governance is yet to be approved by the ARU board. It requires the support of the biggest vote holders, New South Wales and Queensland.
Their respective Super 15 teams, the Waratahs and Reds, have just landed two marquee players, Folau and Cooper, raising the question: at what price comes governance?
Carroll scoffs at this linkage, saying, ''It is just a convergence of circumstances. The Quade Cooper contract took longer to be finalised than it should have. NSW and the Waratahs are separate entities. The Waratahs don't get a vote. It's just timing.''
Isn't it ever.