Folau's AFL leap sees Broncos rule Manly - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Folau's AFL leap sees Broncos rule Manly

By Ben Horne 06/06/2010 07:20:43 PM Comments (0)

Whether he can make the physical adjustments necessary to succeed in AFL remains to be seen, but Israel Folau's two-try performance for Brisbane in their 22-6 NRL win over Manly showed pressure and scrutiny are no match for his mental strength.

Folau took a big mark in the 18th minute off a Darren Lockyer bomb, to score Brisbane's first try at Brookvale Oval - an effort which exhibited the size, skill and power which Aussie Rules officials are hoping he can produce for Greater Western Sydney.

The 21-year-old had to deal with the intense media coverage which came with his mid-week announcement to change codes, and the anxiety of Queensland team-mates and QRL officials saying he should be dropped from State of Origin.

But if any of it worried Folau he didn't show it, simply getting on with the job for Brisbane and justifying why he is among Australian sport's most sought after athletes.

"He's pretty good for an AFL player," summed up team-mate, Sam Thaiday.

Broncos coach Ivan Henjak said he was tired of talking about Folau's code switch, not wanting to "pump the AFL's tyres up anymore."

However Henjak did declare: "I thought he was tremendous, he's handled things great."

Thaiday said Folau's performance proved the star centre is 100 per cent devoted to the Broncos' cause for the remainder of the season.

"He took a great mark out there, scored a try ... it's good to see he's made his decision and he's focusing on the Broncos," Thaiday said.

"I think he had a bit of a point to prove out there and he's still a rugby league player for now."

Folau crashed over for his second try in the 75th minute, sealing what was a gutsy and important win for the Broncos.

After languishing at the foot of the table just a few weeks ago, Brisbane have made a recent surge which has now brought them back into top-four calculations.

In wet and windy conditions, Brisbane started slowly but after Folau's leap midway through the first half, Henjak's men were able to assume control.

Interchange dummy-half Ben Hunt burrowed over for a try six minutes into the second half, but it wasn't until Thaiday showed some brilliant skill in the 68th minute that the Broncos finally closed a dull Manly out of the match.

Thaiday caught a pass from halfback Peter Wallace and in one motion popped a deft inside ball for Hoffman, who steamed away for the line.

Folau scored with five minutes to go to put the icing on the cake for the resurgent Broncos.

"We just stayed in the battle really well against the wind I thought," Henjak said.

Manly second rower Anthony Watmough limped from the field with a groin injury in the closing stages of the match, giving the Sea Eagles and NSW plenty of headaches leading into Origin II.

Coach Des Hasler said Brisbane simply showed more enthusiasm.

"It was a struggle, they were probably a little bit more willing than we were to tell you the truth," he said.

"In the end they just ground us down."

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