He was a superstar at the Melbourne Storm who moved to the Brisbane Broncos on the first big deal of his career. He was a walk up start to the Queensland and Australian Rugby League teams and he looked to be set to have a record breaking career in the game. The AFL came knocking and wasted his time for two years as they paid him a kings ransom, and as he left to return to the game he loved he found himself playing Rugby Union.
There is no doubting the talent of Israel Folau. I don’t watch Rugby Union, I’d rather watch pain dry, but it is clear to see in Folau’s highlights this year that he still has all the attributes that made him a test star in Rugby League.
In his first season first season of Rugby Union, Folau is simply on a completely different level to anyone else in that game. His size, speed, footwork and ability to break tackles as seen him wear that short, well worn path by Rugby League converts into a Rugby Union test team in just his first season of playing the game.
Folau is saying all the right things, that he is happy in Rugby Union and that he hopes he can get his future sorted out. He has yet to commit to the game though and I suspect that is to stop the ARU from standing in his way of becoming a Rugby Union test player.
For the right price, you can get Israel Folau. There is no doubt about that. If he is willing to play AFL for a bit of coin, he would gladly come back to Rugby League for the right price. The question is, which teams in the NRL would be willing to pay huge money to get Folau on their books?
As a Penrith Panthers fan, I think my team would have to be at the top of that list. With salary cap space to burn and the desperate need for some game breaking ability, Folau would be one of the biggest signings in the clubs history.
Throw Folau into the Panthers back line and they have a player that opposition clubs have to worry about. With Jamie Soward moving to the Panthers in 2014, Folau would be the perfect player to bring into the side and take advantage of Sowards kicking game.
The Panthers had wanted to use all of their salary cap space to sign a great playmaker. Missing out on Johnathan Thurston and then Todd Carney is a blow to the club. Over the last couple of weeks though the Panthers have turned a bit of a corner. They have brought a few youngsters into the side who look to have sured up the lineup and who should become regular first graders the Panthers can rely on going forward.
The desperate need for a star playmaker seems a little less desperate all of a sudden. When you consider that all of the best playmakers are now locked up by other clubs, why not use that spare salary cap space to splash out on a star player that Panthers fans can get excited about watching week in, week out.
Israel Folau would no doubt bring fans through the gates, something that hasn’t been happening this season, and it would signal the Panthers intent to go all out and target the biggest names in the game. The club missed out on Thurston and Folau, but if they could sign Israel Folau I dare say it would make other players look to the Panthers as a destination in the future.
So yes, go out and get is Israel Folau Gus. I want a Folau and I want one now!
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
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