Anyone else bored with the Folau follies?
GWS Giants forward Israel Folau (Slattery Images)
Is anyone else bored by the constant stream of stories asking if Israel Folau will go back to the NRL? I grew up in Sydney and didn’t follow AFL until I moved to Melbourne in 2007.
Since then, I’ve grown to love the game and have generally absorbed as much media content as possible.
I’m now back in Sydney temporarily but I’m able to stay up to date through the online content offered by The Age and Herald Sun (both of which I’ll gladly pay for when the paywalls are installed) and Fox Footy, particularly the excellent AFL 360.
However, the AFL content emanating from Sydney outlets is doing my head in.
I know Sydney is an NRL city. While the AFL is making inroads, it’s definitely not the biggest show in town, and the split of column inches between the two sports demonstrates this. The bulk of what I’ve seen on the AFL, though, has been obsessed with Izzy’s future.
It’s just boring. You could write one of those stories for every day on the 2012 calendar if you wanted to. You could’ve started on the day he signed his contract with the GWS Giants and, if you started now, you could write one each day until his time with the club comes to an end, whenever that may be.
There are so many good AFL yarns to be told in Sydney. The Swans are on top of the ladder and an unexpected premiership contender, the GWS squad is brimming with young talent and old mate Barry Hall’s having a kick in the country.
I arrived in Sydney the day after the second derby between the Swans and Giants. That weekend’s Sunday Telegraph had two stories about Folau going back to the NRL. Actually, scratch that, one was an assertion from Phil Rothfield that he would cut short his Giants contract and be back in the NRL in 2013. The very next day, the paper had an ‘Izzy: I’m staying’ story.
It’s as though they want Folau to fail and can’t wait for him to return to the NRL, as a major ‘win’ over the AFL. Regardless, Folau, Kevin Sheedy and all involved with the Giants must be bored of answering the questions.
Conjecture on Folau’s future has done the rounds in the Melbourne media this year, too. But that’s generally been based on an opinion of a key figure of the game – i.e. Matthew Lloyd, who questioned whether he could fit into a forward line with Jeremy Cameron and Jonathon Patton.
For me, a news update on 2UE on Thursday afternoon summed up the quality of the Sydney reporting I’ve encountered. Folau reiterating – again – his commitment to the Giants in a press conference was the lead story. But it was followed by, to paraphrase, “Folau has spent recent weeks in the reserve grade, despite the Giants struggling”.
To me, that’s just lazy output by their newsdesk. I imagine more thought has gone into every single comment – let alone article – on this website.
He did a hamstring, missed a few weeks and came back from injury through their NEAFL team. Having a run in the ‘twos’ is fairly common practice in the AFL if a player misses more than a couple of weeks.
Actual analysis, I’d understand. Folau has been thrown into the deep-end. He’s trying to learn a foreign game in public, as a high-profile defector from the NRL. Oh, and there’s the money. But all of this feels like they’re just taking the easiest of easy journalism options.
He’s still got a long way to go. It’s going to take time and Folau is only 18 months into this. Draftees who’ve played the game their whole life struggle when they first get to AFL level. Mike Pyke from the Swans was a slow starter from Canadian rugby union but has come along nicely.
This time last year, the spotlight was on Karmichael Hunt. Since then, Hunt’s developed, found a home in the Gold Coast midfield and his performances are now reported on like any other AFL footballer. Israel may or may not find himself in the same boat, but it’s going to take time before we actually find out.
I’m a Hawks fan but I’ll be heading out to Skoda Stadium on Sunday to watch GWS against Adelaide. I’m really looking forward to it, truth be told. I’ve enjoyed watching the Giants, including Folau, develop.
It’s almost been my guilty pleasure of the 2012 season.
Then, on Tuesday, I’m jumping on a plane to Europe with a one-way ticket and the AFL is going to be one of the things I’ll miss about Australia.
Late in my Melbourne stint, my housemate joked that I’d ‘see lots of AFL in Europe’. He’s right and I’m cool with that; I’d almost rather no coverage than most of what’s been dished up in Sydney in the last 10 days.