Folau officially a free agent - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Folau officially a free agent

By Wayne Heming and Melissa Woods 30/04/2010 05:49:39 PM Comments (0)

It's open season on in-demand Israel Folau after the young Brisbane star declined to take up a contract option with the club for the 2011-12 NRL seasons.

Folau, though, hasn't told Brisbane he is leaving the club or, if he is, where he is heading.

By allowing his option to lapse, the explosive 21-year-old Test and Queensland State of Origin representative is a free agent and open to all offers from all clubs in all codes.

Brisbane officials refused to confirm on Friday whether Folau - linked on Thursday night to a $3 million AFL offer and also firmly in the sights of rugby's expansion club the Melbourne Rebels - had taken up his option for the next two seasons.

But it's believed he let the option expire, which effectively means his contract with the Broncos becomes null and void.

When Folau signed his multi-year deal with Brisbane in 2008 the club had not appointed a coach, which is why he was able to have an option for the last two years written in.

Once the deadline was reached at 5pm on Friday, he automatically voided any ties with Brisbane beyond this season.

That doesn't mean he can't strike up another deal with the Broncos should his other options fall through.

However, he would have to start negotiations from scratch with a new contract, risking the club spending the majority of its salary cap in the meantime, possibly on some of the $1 million in talent Melbourne need to shed to get under the salary cap for next year.

It's believed the ARU and the Melbourne Rebels are working on a contract for Folau worth between $600,000 and $800,000 a season.

They were the hot favourites to sign Folau until reports on the Nine Network of a left-field bid from the AFL believed to be worth $1 million a season - most likely to headline the Greater Western Sydney franchise.

Acting Rebels CEO Pat Wilson had no comment on the AFL offer but reiterated the new franchise was not interested in mercenaries.

"That's still the case," he told AAP.

"We want people who are committed to setting up a new team.

"Israel has a history with Melbourne (at the Storm) and likes the city."

The AFL rocked rugby league last July when it snared another Brisbane superstar, Karmichael Hunt, who coincidentally is managed by the same management company which handles Folau.

GWS chief executive Dale Holmes refused to confirm whether the AFL franchise had been in discussions with Folau.

"Ever since the Gold Coast signed Karmichael Hunt we've had every man and his dog assigned to us," Holmes told Sydney's Sky Sports Radio.

"Jarryd Hayne, apparently we tried to do a deal there which is not true, recently we've had (Greg) Inglis and (Billy) Slater and now it's supposed to be Folau. Could be (Sachin) Tendulkar next I think.

"I'm not going to make a comment or speculate on that because we've had too many people already speculating on it ... we're not going to make any comment on any speculation, that's the principle we believe in."

While AFL boss Andrew Demetriou admits to admiring Folau as an athlete he wasn't giving any credence to reports the Bronco superstar had been "tested" and had been approached.

"He's an outstanding athlete - I know that much. But it's up to him what he decides to do," said Demetriou.

Folau's decision not to reveal his future plans means Australian and Queensland Origin selectors would be unlikely to rule him out of representative football.

Rep selectors have no official policy on excluding code-crossers but are reluctant to pick them, citing the need to build for the future.

Hunt delayed his AFL announcement last year until after the interstate series so he could play Origin for Queensland.

Brisbane chief executive Bruno Cullen did not return calls from AAP on Friday to confirm reports Folau had failed to take up his two-year option.

Folau's manager Isaac Moses also did not immediately return calls.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2023 AAP

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