Folau will go straight to AFL, say GWS - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Folau will go straight to AFL, say GWS

By Roger Vaughan 09/06/2010 06:07:54 PM Comments (0)

Greater Western Sydney (GWS) have scrambled to clarify Israel Folau's immediate future, after speculation that the star AFL signing might first play rugby union.

On Wednesday morning, GWS chief executive Dale Holmes had said Folau would lose an incentive in his lucrative four-year contract if he went overseas to play rugby before joining the AFL's 18th team.

Fellow rugby league convert Karmichael Hunt has had a successful rugby union stint in France ahead of joining AFL expansion side Gold Coast but the circumstances are different to Folau's.

Hunt had played some Australian Rules as a junior and it was a condition of his original deal with Gold Coast that he could pursue rugby opportunities overseas after he left rugby league.

Folau is a complete newcomer to Australian Rules and the expectation is that he will start a development program soon after his commitments end with Brisbane at the end of this NRL season.

Given the hype surrounding Folau's upcoming code switch, it would be a bad look for GWS and the AFL if he first had a rugby stint overseas.

On Wednesday afternoon, Holmes said: "It was always intended that Israel starts straight after the (rugby league) season with Team GWS," Holmes said.

"(Football manager) Graeme Allan is in the process of finalising a development plan for Israel to start with us post the NRL season and we will sit down with his manager and work through that plan.

"I don't think there will be any issues around that plan.

"All parties are on the same page and agree that he is better-placed starting earlier with us and really getting into the training than going overseas, as Karmichael did.

"I'm pretty confident that we will resolve that matter within the next few weeks."

But in his radio interview on Wednesday morning, Holmes revealed that the GWS contract with Folau encouraged him to turn down any rugby offers.

"He can make a significant earning in the summer season over in Europe," Holmes told SEN.

"We couldn't compete with that so we had to structure the contract in a way that if he wanted to go over and do that he could, but there would be a discount in terms of what we could pay."

Holmes also acknowledged that Folau would need more development work than Hunt to switch from league to AFL.

"There is a difference in the sense that Karmichael has played the game previously," Holmes said.

"Israel's got more development work to do so I think we're reasonably confident he will stay and work with us over the course of the period ... our sense is that he will stay and do the work with us."

GWS will play in the VFL next year before becoming the AFL's 18th team in 2012.

On Tuesday, Queensland rugby league selectors controversially retained Folau in their side for the second State Of Origin match next week against New South Wales.

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