Folau finding AFL tougher than expected

By Rob Forsaith,

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36 Have your say

    Israel Folau admits his cross-code venture has been harder than expected, but good mate Nic Naitanui is confident the former NRL star will succeed in the AFL.

    Folau’s steep learning curve has become all the steeper in the past three weeks, with Greater Western Sydney beaten by a combined tally of 192 points in their first two AFL matches.

    The 23-year-old, who first signed with the AFL’s expansion franchise in 2010 and played in the NEAFL last year, conceded on Thursday his transition from Steeden to Sherrin hasn’t been as facile as planned.

    “It has been (harder than I expected). I thought it’d be a little bit smoother than how it’s been so far,” Folau said.

    “It’s been tough so far. We’ve just got to stick together as a team and go for the year.”

    Folau’s problems have not been unique to him.

    GWS’s forward line has been largely starved of the ball, and the whole side would have been at a “pretty low point” after the 129-point loss to North Melbourne.

    But while most of his teammates are having their first taste of professional sport, Folau’s lows are coming after unthinkable highs.

    His debut NRL season in 2007 was arguably comparatively better than Joel Selwood’s with Geelong – at age 17 he won a premiership, scored a record number of tries and was crowned the Dally M Rookie of the Year.

    He then became the youngest ever to play rugby league for Australia and represent Queensland in the code’s showpiece State of Origin series.

    “I’ve been lucky enough to be in a good winning culture throughout my career and now I’m experiencing something on the other side,” Folau said.

    “I think for me it’s just good in a way … it’s good for me as an athlete to experience what we did last week.

    “You sort of bring yourself back down … and it’s going to be like this – a bit of a rough patch for us – throughout the year, so you just have to stick together as a team.”

    Therein lies one of the biggest challenges for the super-competitive Folau, coming to terms with the likely one-sided nature of GWS’s clashes.

    “I’ve played rugby league and it’s been tough – but I’ve got to say AFL’s been a little bit tougher mentally,” he said.

    “Especially for me, coming to a new side where we’ve got a lot of young boys.

    “It’s been hard mentally and that’s probably the thing I have to cope with throughout the year.

    “…There’s a bit of improvement I can see, but it’s going to take time.”

    For all his struggles, Folau has an ardent supporter in Naitanui.

    “I can see where he’s at – I was there a few years ago,” said the West Coast ruckman who struck up a friendship with Folau when the pair were promoting the code in the South Pacific.

    “He’s probably ahead of me at this stage in terms of my first few games … and 2010 (when the Eagles finished last) was probably the worst thing I’ve ever experienced.

    “You can turn it around pretty quickly. We’re developing pretty fast over here so I don’t see why the Giants can’t do it as well.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (36)

    • April 13th 2012 @ 6:36am
      ManInBlack said | April 13th 2012 @ 6:36am | ! Report

      Izzie does nice little things – his struggle currently is to do more of them.

      His fitness still isn’t up to speed. But, a full season plus another pre-season will help for 2013.

      On Sunday, the windy conditions didn’t help – nor the poor delivery into the forward line in the first half where the Giants just got carved up.

      • April 14th 2012 @ 12:37am
        Bludger said | April 14th 2012 @ 12:37am | ! Report

        Maybe, just maybe if he stuck at it for 3 or 4 seasons and noone lost patience he could find somekind of useful role. Problem is, by then he will be holding the team back.

    • April 13th 2012 @ 9:13am
      Strummer Jones said | April 13th 2012 @ 9:13am | ! Report

      As an aside, GWS really are going backwards. Check out the time for the “Curtain Raiser” for Sunday’s game…

      Gates: 11.00am
      Main game: 1.10pm
      End of game: 3.40 – 3.50pm
      Kick to kick: 15 minutes
      Curtain raiser: 4.15pm (approx.)

      Israel (the person) is probably just as good as Jessie White at this moment. Not a bad effort after just 2 games!

      • Roar Guru

        April 13th 2012 @ 10:16am
        The Cattery said | April 13th 2012 @ 10:16am | ! Report

        I tell you what Strummer, you’ve got some eagle eyes there, you’ve been on fire this morning!

        • April 13th 2012 @ 11:08am
          Strummer Jones said | April 13th 2012 @ 11:08am | ! Report

          I just sent an email to the Eagles informing them that the Curtain Raiser is on at 4.15pm. That should get them thinking they don’t need to turn up to the ground until say 6pm. Imagine the call to the Rooty Hill RSL motel rooms at quarter time “Where the f*** are you guys”.

          • Roar Guru

            April 13th 2012 @ 12:29pm
            The Cattery said | April 13th 2012 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

            Would the Giants have a chance of winning if the Eagles turned up to play half way through the last quarter? Might be touch and go!!

            • April 13th 2012 @ 12:57pm
              Nathan of Perth said | April 13th 2012 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

              Old story about two country teams… There was a rule that if one team didn’t turn up on time the other team got to start without them. Well, this day the away team had bus trouble and were running late and were all thinking oh no, they’ll kick a tonne before we get there! But they rock up and look around in confusion as 18 morose home players stood around and a goal ump waited with the ball. When asked what was going on the home captain explained that their first kick on goal was shanked and they had been waiting 15 minutes for someone to take the kick-in.

              • Roar Guru

                April 13th 2012 @ 1:05pm
                The Cattery said | April 13th 2012 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

                lol – that’s quite a funny story!!

          • Roar Guru

            April 13th 2012 @ 12:30pm
            The Cattery said | April 13th 2012 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

            Izzy would get a bit of the ball with no opponent on him.

            • April 13th 2012 @ 1:05pm
              Cameron said | April 13th 2012 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

              Cheeky Cat, very cheeky.

              However, I actually think how Izzy is going right now is more an embarressment to those rugby league commentators such as Terry Kennedy that said how his defection to the AFL reflects how any rugby league player can make it easily in the AFL.

              In contrast, the comments made by Paul Vautin when Izzy was recruited, where he thought there would not be a flood of RL players joining the AFL beacause he thought that most RL players would not have the skills to play Australian Rules make Fatty look pretty wise right now.

              • April 13th 2012 @ 2:14pm
                Cman said | April 13th 2012 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

                He was always going to fail.
                Izzy will be out of the AFL before next season.
                Michael Jordan was a Superstar NBL player and a very average Baseball player and Jordon played Baseball in his younger years, Izzy had nothing.
                It’s so sad, he could of been a super star in League and Union but will only be remembered as a joke.
                All for the love of money.
                Hope you’re happy AD!!

              • Roar Guru

                April 13th 2012 @ 2:19pm
                The Cattery said | April 13th 2012 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

                I don’t wish to draw conclusions on one sport or the other, because Izzy is giving it a go (like Hunt), and they’ve both been thrown into the deep end with minimal support or time to learn the game.

                The problem with both players, as evidenced by their stats from the weekend (SC scores in the 20s), is that they both lack that hard running ability, to just go and go and go.

                Their hands are very good, and when they catch someone, they nail them good and proper, but they are basically chasing the ball around and not really getting anywhere near it – a lot of effort for minimal return. Developing some smarts will allow them to become more efficient, no problems there, but the question down the track will be: do they have the hard running capacity to get to the ball before their opponent on a consistent basis for 2 hours?

              • April 13th 2012 @ 2:59pm
                Ian Whitchurch said | April 13th 2012 @ 2:59pm | ! Report


                Michael Jordan couldnt hit a curveball when he was sitting out his gambling suspension.

                Izzy can do all the things a KPP is supposed to do, he just doesnt know when to do them. Personally, I would rotate him between the ruck and true full forward, and when he’s at full forward put him on strict instructions to not go more than 20 meteres from the goalposts.

                But I still wouldnt trade him straight up for Jack Watts or for Jesse White.

              • April 13th 2012 @ 3:04pm
                seanmaguire said | April 13th 2012 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

                Cattery neither Folou or Hunt have a clue what they’re doing. They haven’t been playing the game since they were kids and don’t have the intuition other players have. They’ll never be up to it as players.
                And since when were Natinui and Folou friends? I think you’ve been drinking the AFL koolaid after they both appeared together and shock horror there was a photographer to record the momentous occasion.

              • Roar Guru

                April 13th 2012 @ 4:16pm
                Redb said | April 13th 2012 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

                Way too early to write him off. He is basicially in the early days of year 2 of 4.

                The step up to AFL level takes time for kids who have played the game their whole life. His body is at least mature, just needs more time in the field.

                We will see improvement against lesser sides. Folau has the leap and tackling ability from the outset. He is working out the ruck position.

                His biggest problem is lack of clean ball from the midfield putting the sherrin laces out onto his chest. The GWS kids hack the ball into inside 50 making it very hard for any forward.

                Dare I say it, but put Folau at full forward for Geelong and he would all of sudden be getting a lot more possessions.

              • April 13th 2012 @ 5:16pm
                seanmaguire said | April 13th 2012 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

                Well I’m writing him off. it’s not a question of whether he can jump or catch, it’s putting himself in a position to do it. We’ve seen it before with league players going to union, they have the skills but they just have no idea where to put themselves and just don’t get the tactics like someone who has played all their lives. And Sailor and Lote weren’t bad union players, they just weren’t top class players like they were in league. It’s all well and good telling Folou what to do, but he has to do it instinctively rather than thinking about what he has to do. And I don’t think he’ll ever be able to do that.

              • April 13th 2012 @ 9:20pm
                ManInBlack said | April 13th 2012 @ 9:20pm | ! Report

                as with draftees – and Irishmen – generally, the need is to get 50 games under their belt as quickly as possible. Izzie is only just started down that pathway.

                but – agreed that both he and Hunt do some nice stuff when they are able to be in position – – but, A. it’s harder to read the play when you’re side is getting thumped, and B. it’s harder to run and run and run when most of it is chasing tail.

              • April 15th 2012 @ 12:28am
                Phelpsu said | April 15th 2012 @ 12:28am | ! Report

                Maybe a tad premature on hunt there catty

              • Roar Guru

                April 15th 2012 @ 10:09am
                The Cattery said | April 15th 2012 @ 10:09am | ! Report

                what was premature?

      • Roar Guru

        April 13th 2012 @ 1:08pm
        mds1970 said | April 13th 2012 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

        The NEAFL game had originally been scheduled as a curtain-raiser starting at 9:45am; but that would have required the Canberra-based opponents to have got up at some ungodly hour of the night to drive up. So they re-scheduled it to after the main game.

    • April 13th 2012 @ 3:22pm
      TW said | April 13th 2012 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

      Izzy may be struggling a bit on the field for GWS BUT the author of this media article is very very pleased that GWS have set up camp in his area. He also likes the Soccer football entrance with a new club.
      His comments on the Rugby League set up in his area are quite sensible for a change – It does not say what football code he follows though.
      His figures as quoted – A 155% increase in AFL participation since 2006 with another 10% increase last year.(10% should be achievable from now on)
      He says his district is the Diabetes capital of Australia – Not a good outlook for the future.
      Who is the author – Chris Bowen – Federal Labour member for McMahon and Minister for Immigration whose electorate encompasses a fair bit of GWS. Link below for the Electorate and its make up.
      Have two links
      This post is an attempt to balance out the loud and noisy anti- GWS campaign from some AFL supporters on this forum

    • April 13th 2012 @ 4:49pm
      Republican said | April 13th 2012 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

      ‘Izzy does nice little things’ – well so would a blind folded Japanese Sumo wrestler.

      As nice as they may appear, they would be unrelated to the skill set required for our game, especially at the elite level and are far from proportional to the salary this fella has commanded at the expense of actual Australian Footy grass roots products, of which and contrary to the globalist persuasion – exist in abundance.

      Izzy is laughing all the way to the bank – to be sure!

      • April 13th 2012 @ 5:48pm
        Ian Whitchurch said | April 13th 2012 @ 5:48pm | ! Report


        You havent paid much attention to the development of forward play recently, have you ?

    • April 13th 2012 @ 4:51pm
      Republican said | April 13th 2012 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

      The Eagles will have been briefed by the league, to go slow v GWS

    • April 13th 2012 @ 6:10pm
      ChrisH said | April 13th 2012 @ 6:10pm | ! Report

      Seanmaguire, I really don’t agree re Hunts performance at this point. His first game was genuinely solid. Got more of the footy than about half his team mates and didn’t make a single mistake (kicked accurately and didn’t give any stupid frees away). Very respectable. Second game was quiet but nothing outstanding from the ret of his team

      • April 15th 2012 @ 10:04am
        Phelpsy said | April 15th 2012 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        Well he did very well last night – one of the best one ground I would say.

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