Holmes defends Folau against criticism - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Holmes defends Folau against criticism

01/06/2010 06:40:15 PM Comments (0)

Greater Western Sydney boss Dale Holmes has rubbished suggestions the signing of NRL superstar Israel Folau is simply a marketing gimmick aimed at making a mark in a rugby league stronghold.

Folau on Tuesday agreed to a four-year deal believed to be worth as much as $1.5 million a season with the AFL's newest franchise, his defection a major flip for an organisation desperate to make its mark in Australian sport's toughest marketplace.

While the defection will no doubt generate interest in GWS which could not be measured in financial terms - in much the same way as Karmichael Hunt has done with the Gold Coast franchise, Holmes said he and his staff were adamant Folau had the potential to be a success in AFL.

"You don't make four-year investments of the nature of ours in Izzy for a gimmick," Holmes told AAP.

"You can achieve the same outcome by doing a one-year exercise.

"Definitely he's a long-term investment - we believe people like Izzy that have got athletic talent, sporting talent, have got the right head on their shoulders can transition into our sport.

"We feel he can be a great player for our club over a period of time."

While some have questioned Folau's ability to transfer his talents to the new code - in particular his aerobic capacity and ability to kick a Sherrin - the 21-year-old said he was willing to do the hard work to adapt.

He denied he was motivated by the riches on offer in AFL, but rather the desire to challenge himself and be closer to his extended family which still resides in western Sydney.

"Of course I'm confident in myself being a successful AFL player otherwise I wouldn't be sitting here right now," Folau said at Tuesday's packed press conference at the GWS's training base at Blacktown.

"I love the game of rugby league and I've played that since I was young but I've made the choice to come over to AFL and I'm going to do my best to make it a successful transition.

"If I stayed in rugby league or went to rugby union I would have been getting paid well so money wasn't the end factor of my decision.

"At the end of the day the opportunity that came up and the challenge was really appealing to me."

But while Folau denied money was a deciding factor, there is no doubt AFL players around the country would have taken a keen interest into just how deep the league did dig into its warchest to attract the Test and Queensland Origin flyer.

Holmes refused to confirm the $6 million price tag, but admitted Folau's remuneration came down to much more than just his potential ability to run, kick, tackle and handball.

With AFL superstar Gary Ablett off contact at the end of the season and in the sights of Gold Coast, Holmes was asked what the reigning Brownlow medallist would be worth if Folau could command a pay packet in excess of $1 million before he'd even played a game.

"It's a completely different proposition - it's chalk and cheese as far as the value of those two players," Holmes said.

"Gary Ablett is definitely a higher value player talent but there's more to this than just player talent.

"The reality is this is a contract for the delivery of player services, talent development for our talent development program, game development for getting more kids to play the game and fan development in getting people to watch our game.

"He brings some special characteristics to the table because of his background - an AFL player from Melbourne would not have that sort of resonance with the greater western Sydney community."

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