When Israel Folau exploded onto the Rugby League scene, you got the feeling that he could be anything. A huge center for the Melbourne Storm, he made a name for himself with his high flying leaps, catching kicks from Cooper Cronk, and being an amazing athlete.
Ironically because of salary cap restraints, and a desire to move closer to family, Folau decided to head to the Brisbane Broncos after two seasons with the Storm. In those two short seasons he had won an NRL title, played in Two Grand Finals and was a State Of Origin and Australian Test player.
His time at Brisbane started off in spectacular fashion, he started scoring tries at will. However injuries really ruined his first season at the club and by season end, another problem had become apparent.
Folau was signed by the Brisbane Broncos as a center. Center is a very difficult decision to play and the Broncos felt like they had got a young, long term center for all of the money they payed to Folau.
The problem was that Folau showed he was more of a winger than a center. At center, in defense, Folau has defensive issues that Phil Gould pointed out very well last year on the Footy Show. These defensive lapses has been targeted more and more by opposition teams and actually have seen Folau pushed out to the Wing for the Broncos.
The other issue is that, in attack, Folau is a powerful runner by once again lines up on the wing when fielding cross field kicks, which he undoubtedly brilliant at taking.
In Rugby League, you can pay a huge amount for a quality center. For a winger though, its just a stupid thing to do.
Now Folau is taking part in his second season with the Broncos, and he had a clause in his contract that allows him to leave the club. There was talk that he wanted to head back to the Melbourne Storm, but for obvious reasons that won’t be happening.
Now the new “Super” Rugby Union franchise has stepped in an made Folau a massive offer believe to be about $1,000,000 per season.
He should take it. He shouldn’t even think for another second about this deal. He should take the money and run.
I personally think its a sign of utter desperation from the Melbourne Rebels Rugby Union side. An expansion club in foreign territory, a team who one Melbourne reporter just a few days ago described as “Not even being on the radar”.
So far the Rebels have signed five players. Two English players, who are obviously great players to not be wanted by all the European teams that throw around money, a 31 year old New South Wales played, a 33 year old Sterling Mortlock, an injury prone has been who they signed to a three year deal, and their big Rugby League signing that they described as a coup, Jarrod Saffy from St George/Illawarra’s reserve grade side.
They are struggling to sign ANY players, so throwing a million dollars at Folau is no surprise.
Here is what I don’t understand though.
Folau’s best asset is his ability to leap for a cross field bomb close to the try line. That is what he has built his reputation on.
How many cross field bombs do you see kicked in Rugby Union?
Here is a tip, not many at all! Folau would have been a more reasoned buy for an AFL club rather than a Rugby Union club!
There is no doubting Folau is an amazing athlete, and his leaping ability is incredible. At his young age, he could sort out his defensive issues and play for well over a decade at NRL level and probably representative level as well.
In Rugby Union, like all Rugby League players, he would be wasted in a game bogged down stupid rules and penalties.
Would he be a success? Of course he would! Every Rugby League player that has gone over has been a Test player within the space of two seasons! Even an average player like Will Chambers is being talked of as a Rugby Union test player in his first season!
Folau right now though, he isn’t living up to the contract he is on at Brisbane, and he certainly isn’t worth a million dollars per year to any team in any sport.
He should take the money and run.
Dare I say it, the Broncos wouldn’t be sad to free up around $400,000 to spend on a center.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
Aug 28, 2020 0