Folau barbs are unfair: Sheedy
Even after Israel Folau spent five weeks on the sidelines, Greater Western Sydney coach Kevin Sheedy found himself defending the club’s high-profile recruit.
The Giants lost Sydney’s AFL derby by 94 points on Saturday night but it was a low-key return in the seconds for Folau.
The 23-year-old, who has been nursing a hamstring injury since round nine, booted one goal in his NEAFL comeback and played roughly half of each quarter.
The pressure on Folau has mounted over the past month, with speculation once again growing the former rugby league star will head back to the NRL when his contract with GWS ends in 2014.
Former Essendon full-forward Matthew Lloyd has been the most vocal of Folau’s critics, opining his presence in the forward line will harm the development of talented teammates Jonathon Patton and Jeremy Cameron.
Sheedy suggested Folau “might come back” against Hawthorn on Sunday at the MCG, but it’s likely he’ll have another week in the reserves.
The four-time premiership coach said he would play Patton, Cameron and Folau in the same forward line and teed off against the likes of Lloyd.
“If Jonathon Patton or Jeremy Cameron only get five or seven possessions, that’s OK because they’re top draft picks,” Sheedy said.
“But if Izzy Folau gets only seven or 10 possessions he gets a kick in the head from everybody.
“It can be a bit unfair.
“These kids have been playing the game their whole life, and this bloke (Folau) has done nearly as much as both of those two boys in their early games.
“…Key forward’s a very difficult position to play – it doesn’t matter if you’re from outer space, Russia or NRL.”
More calvary could arrive for Folau next season, with Sheedy keen to sign more mature bodies to help his raw charges.
“We have a recruiting meeting this week and we’ll be out there scouring the countryside and looking at players that aren’t happy at their clubs and don’t think they’ll get a really good chance at their club,” he said.
“If they’re anywhere near off contract, or opposition clubs might let them go, we’ll work out what can happen.
“(GWS will look to sign players) between 21 and 26 (years old), someone that’s got a bit of life left in them.”
Sheedy said his side must avoid embarrassment against the Hawks.
“We’ve got to make sure the score’s not too negative – that’s part of developing this club,” he said© AAP 2013
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