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Tahs may net Folau on the cheap


Brad Walter

Code-breaker ... Israel Folau is on the verge of signing with the Super rugby club the NSW Waratahs.

Code-breaker ... Israel Folau is on the verge of signing with the Super rugby club the NSW Waratahs. Photo: Getty Images

ISRAEL FOLAU is set to sign a one-year deal with the Waratahs worth a third of the $1.5 million-a-season AFL contract he recently turned his back on and less than Parramatta's initial offer for him to return to the NRL.

The fact Folau and the Waratahs have negotiated only a short-term contract with no Australian Rugby Union top-up suggests the move was not for money but because he had become fed up with delays in finalising an NRL deal.

NRL interim chief executive Shane Mattiske confirmed in a press release he had spoken with Folau's management about the former Test and Origin star returning to the code before he was officially released by Greater Western Sydney on November 1, and Fairfax Media understands the meeting was before the NRL grand final a month earlier.

However, NRL salary cap auditor Ian Schubert refused to register a contract for Folau for less than $400,000 and the Eels did not have room for him next season unless Willie Tonga agreed to play elsewhere.

Parramatta were Folau's first choice but they weren't the only NRL club his management spoke with after the Giants and the AFL agreed to release him from the remaining two years of his contract.

Folau knew he would earn significantly less money in the NRL as well as having to endure criticism as a failure in AFL but he wanted to return to the game he grew up playing and in which he had represented Queensland and Australia. However, delays in finalising an increased salary cap for 2013 and Schubert's refusal to register any deal worth less than $400,000 led to a frustrated Folau opening talks with the Waratahs.

He did not want to move outside Sydney and, despite speculation in the French media linking him with Clermont, Folau never considered playing in France or Japan.

It is understood that his deal with the Waratahs does not include a top-up from the ARU and the one-year term will enable him to decide if he wants to stay in the code or return to the NRL in 2014.

By then, NRL clubs will have had the chance to free up room in the salary cap to sign him, and the ceiling on player wages is also expected to have been significantly raised so Folau won't have to endure the same problems he encountered after deciding he wanted to return.

If he does, it almost certainly won't be with Parramatta after both parties were left with a bitter taste in their mouths after the protracted negotiations.

However, the 23-year-old may prove such a success for the Waratahs that the ARU will offer him a big contract and the lure of the 2015 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games to stay in the code.

News that Schubert had agreed to register a deal for Folau last Wednesday if he accepted Parramatta's renewed offer has also raised questions as the club says it hasn't released any players and Fairfax Media has been told reports of a $3 million, four-year contract are not correct. Rival clubs had overwhelmingly opposed a proposal from Parramatta to accommodate Folau by overspending on the 2013 salary cap and spending less in 2014.

Meanwhile, former Wallabies coach John Connolly believes Folau faces another uphill battle to adapt to a foreign code if he makes the switch to rugby.

''Folau is a good physical player but would he be able to adapt to rugby and the challenge of coping with that?'' Connolly told AAP on Sunday. ''The transition is not always that easy. He would have to be ready for it mentally. That could be his biggest challenge. Mentally he would have to be up for the change and starting from scratch in many respects.''

with AAP

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Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00Leicester City Stadium
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
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Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
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WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
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LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 3 3 0 0 97 13
Wales 3 3 0 0 58 13
England 3 1 2 0 1 6
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 3 0 3 0 -139 0
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 3 2 1 0 56 11
Scotland 3 2 1 0 40 10
Japan 3 2 1 0 -12 8
Samoa 3 1 2 0 -52 4
USA 2 0 2 0 -32 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 3 3 0 0 87 14
Argentina 3 2 1 0 64 10
Tonga 3 1 2 0 -22 6
Georgia 3 1 2 0 -71 4
Namibia 2 0 2 0 -58 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 3 3 0 0 84 14
France 3 3 0 0 72 14
Italy 3 1 2 0 -24 5
Romania 3 1 2 0 -59 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
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