Greater Western Sydney coach Kevin Sheedy says Israel Folau’s struggles on Saturday were related to education, not a lack of effort.
GWS’s Manuka Oval clash with Melbourne was one of Folau’s darkest days since leaving the NRL to join the AFL’s 18th club.
He registered just three disposals, three hitouts and gave away a free kick in the Giants’ 25-point loss.
But according to the likes of Kevin Bartlett, who sits on the league’s rules committee, of far greater concern was Folau’s body language.
He looked devoid of even a skerrick of confidence.
“What’s disappointing is you would think 12 months down the track, he would be showing something,” Bartlett said while calling the game for radio station SEN.
“Today he showed nothing. Today they have played a man short.”
Former Geelong forward Cameron Mooney was similarly critical.
Folau was shifted to defence in the last term, where he collected his first kick which was greeted with bronx cheers from the fans.
It was a lifetime away from winning rugby league games for Queensland and Australia with his own slick set of hands and explosive vertical leap.
Sheedy said Folau was still learning the game and and took heart from the success that Sydney’s Canadian import Mike Pyke is enjoying this season.
“It’s taken a guy like Pyke four years. And everybody here, particularly people that follow all the codes, expect a person to be a superstar straight away,” Sheedy said.
“Well it doesn’t happen.
“Pyke went under the radar for four years before he made it.
“Izzy cops a battering, because people like to write those sort of stories.
“He’s still learning. I put him into the backline and he wasn’t that bad.”
The game was arguably Folau’s best chance yet to make a name for himself in GWS’s forward line, with talented teammates Jonathon Patton and Jeremy Cameron both missing due to injury.