The Roar
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The AFL's great Israel Folau flop

Israel Folau was not a success on the field, but was arguably good for the AFL off it. AAP Image/Paul Miller
Roar Rookie
20th November, 2012
109
2293 Reads

It has taken a few weeks but I can no longer hold my tongue. How can the Israel Folau experiment be considered a success?

News Limited ran a story following his departure with the headline, “Israel Folau worth every cent for AFL”. But how is that possible?

The only success he had in the sport was found in his bank account and an improved financial portfolio.

Furthermore, the established superstars of the AFL, such as Chris Judd, Adam Goodes and Dane Swan, cannot be happy with Folau’s pay packet.

Whilst no one would admit it publicly, I can’t imagine they would feel comfortable with some league coming in and commanding a wage on par with or exceeding theirs.

People will say the exposure he got the Giants make him worth the $2 million he received for his two years. Essentially, he was on a salary of $1 million per season to do a public relations job. To be honest, I am somewhat jealous.

Greater Western Sydney had the lowest home crowd average attendance figures for a first-season club in modern times.

Gold Coast had an average of 19,169 in 2011 and back in 1997 Port Adelaide drew in an average of 35,829. They didn’t have anyone like Israel Folau in their squads.

Sure, there is the argument Karmichael Hunt was purchased for the same reason as Folau.

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However, Hunt was a positive contributor on the field for the Suns in 2012 and Folau looked lost, confused and at times disinterested throughout this season.

It cannot be a positive thing for marketing purposes that Folau pocketed so much money to be a sideshow, especially considering he gave up on the game so early.

The AFL hoped to attract young Polynesian boys into playing the game, but when they see an idol like Folau fail so dismally on the field, it in fact makes them less likely to play the game.

Why would they leave the games the power games they’ve always played, like league and union, for something unfamiliar where their physical prowess would not be so pronounced?

Israel’s foray into AFL would not have drawn in any new talent and his departure takes away the one name the people of Western Sydney recognise on the Giants roster.

His decision to take the easy money and bolt will hurt the AFL’s new expansion club more than anyone involved will let on.