Folau the player a total failure

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 01 November 2012 | 14.43

Israel Folau leaves Greater Western Sydney two years before his contract is up, but doesn't know what is next.

GWS Giant Israel Folau didn't work as a player, but did generate publicity in Sydney. Source: HWT Image Library

ANALYSIS: AS an AFL player, Israel Folau was a total, unmitigated, disastrous failure.

He kicked just two goals in 13 matches, amassed 80 thoroughly unconvincing possessions, and looked totally at sea for all but two 30-minute bursts in his two years as an AFL player.

In one pre-season game against Hawthorn, and against the Western Bulldogs in Round 5 we saw small signs that Folau was slowly getting the hang of this complicated, nuanced game.

But apart from that there was virtually nothing - in truth it was depressing to watch.

Yet for an AFL so desperate to get a small foothold into rugby league-dominated western Sydney, this exercise has already served its purpose.

Forget high-profile signings Tom Scully, or Callan Ward, or Phil Davis.

Folau was the mass drawcard that allowed GWS to get media traction into the state, a recognisable face the club could sell itself around.

Kevin Sheedy was the song-and-dance man that drummed up the publicity, but even as he was failing, Folau was still a media-generating machine.

After two years and millions of dollars of wages funded partly by the AFL, he is gone.

Some will say that his departure is irrefutable proof the experiment was a failure in every ways, but in truth it is perfect timing.

If GWS it to survive it has to be as a football club, not a sideshow experiment featuring a former NRL star.

Consider Folau's on-field prospects next year, competing with the likes of Jeremy Cameron, Jon Patton and most likely Kurt Tippett.

He would have been the most expensive reserve-grade forward the competition has ever seen.

That could well have caused more damage than actually still having Folau around at the Giants.

Make no mistake, GWS wants Tippett, as Kevin Sheedy told the Herald Sun this week.

"I think it is very important and we owe it to our fans to get in senior players who are very talented. If you look at the teams which have won premierships, these are the situations which come up. The Swans built themselves up by getting Tony Lockett and Barry Hall. They got those players around 25.

"We are having a look at him, don't worry about that.''

If they can secure him as their new marquee forward, Folau's departure and the salary cap room it creates will be a win-win for both parties.

Folau was never going to become Gold Coast revelation Karmichael Hunt, who honed his body shape and worked and worked until he reawakened his junior AFL pedigree.

Better to get two years of freakishly good publicity from Folau, then allow him return to the sport he was really born to play.

The AFL got its publicity, Folau got his millions, and now the Giants will get on with the enormous task of proving they can eventually become self-sufficient without the AFL's drip-fed allowances.

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