NRL criticises AFL integrity - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL criticises AFL integrity

By AAP reporters 01/06/2010 07:01:46 PM Comments (0)

Rugby league says the AFL's integrity is shot after pinching Israel Folau in a cynical $6 million marketing gamble.

The two football codes were at war on Tuesday over the AFL's luring of Folau to their newest entity, Greater Western Sydney (GWS).

The 21-year-old confirmed on Tuesday he will defect to the AFL, and instantly become arguably the competition's highest paid player.

The Australian, Queensland and Brisbane Broncos league star has signed a four-year deal with GWS, who enter the AFL in 2012, worth between $4-6 million.

"If I stayed in rugby league or even if I went to rugby union I would be getting paid well," Folau said.

"Money was not the end factor in my decision, it was the opportunity that came up."

NRL boss David Gallop accused the AFL of manipulating their rules to sign Folau.

Folau follows another former Bronco Karmichael Hunt, who will play for the Gold Coast in the AFL, in switching codes.

"Obviously this is a very, very big punt by the AFL," said Gallop.

"It's a huge amount of money to spend on one player."

Folau's conversion "can only throw out of whack their draft and cap system", Gallop said of the AFL.

He questioned how the AFL could preach talent equalisation and salary parity when they "have a player come from the outside on such a massive amount of money."

" ... They have manipulated it again today in a way where I think other clubs in the AFL would be scratching their heads," Gallop said.

While GWS coach Kevin Sheedy cast Folau in a likely key forward role, AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said he crossed codes with no guarantee of success.

"Our expectation for Israel Folau, and 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."

Outspoken Brisbane AFL forward Brendan Fevola said the size of Folau's contract was insulting.

"It's a lot of money to throw at a player who has not played footy before," Fevola said.

"I think it is a slap in the face for players who played the game for a long time."

Manly chief executive Graham Lowe was equally blunt: "It's just a really expensive PR stunt for the AFL," he said.

The defection follows other Broncos to leave the rugby league club for different codes, but their chief executive Bruno Cullen was pragmatic about Folau.

"We are talking about rugby league territory and a public relations exercise more than getting two good AFL players at this point in time," Cullen said.

"We're talking $6 million over four years, that's what I've heard. Everyone has to understand the money is not in our game to match these types of offers."

Folau's monies will sit outside the AFL's salary cap.

Under AFL rules, any club can sign any player who hasn't been registered for any Australian Rules club for three years.

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