Folau no overnight success: Demetriou - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Folau no overnight success: Demetriou

By Sam Lienert 01/06/2010 06:37:16 PM Comments (0)

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou says the league does not expect Israel Folau to be a quick success story as a footballer, saying fans will need patience as he learns the game.

The rugby league star has signed a four-year deal worth more than $4 million to join AFL expansion club Greater Western Sydney (GWS), in what Demetriou said was a wonderful move to attract a "phenomenal" athlete.

But, with the 21-year-old having never played Australian Rules football at any level, Demetriou said he could not be expected to be "the face of the club" or to be a star player in his early years in the code.

"I don't think he has to succeed straight away," Demetriou told reporters in Melbourne.

"He's going to be someone who will continue to develop and people just have to be patient.

"Obviously there's going to be great expectation around him, but we haven't got that expectation.

"Our expectation is that he'll be a player who will develop and over time he'll develop further and continue to learn the game."

Demetriou compared Folau to Irish-born Carlton forward Setanta O'hAilpin, who converted to the sport from hurling, but is only now starting to consistently have a significant impact on the competition, after joining the Blues in 2004.

"Our expectation for Israel Folau and (Gold Coast's ex-NRL recruit) Karmichael Hunt for that matter is not an expectation of them succeeding quickly," Demetriou said.

"They are a long-term investment and I can see these guys taking quite a while to adjust to our game, it would be a natural thing.

"But that's fine, it's a hard game, our game."

Demetriou also dismissed concerns that the money being paid to Folau could be better spent on junior development or on current stars of the game who have been brought up playing AFL.

He said the advent of the new Gold Coast and GWS clubs would lead to greater AFL revenue, which could be distributed in those areas.

"It's going to help the industry through the broadcast rights and other means to generate significantly more revenue and that means that all the players and all the participants in our game will hopefully share in that upside," he said.

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