Giant task ahead for Folau - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Giant task ahead for Folau

James Dampney 03/04/2011 02:38:40 PM Comments (0)

Greater Western Sydney recruit Israel Folau showed how far he has to go to establish himself as an AFL player, failing to gain a possession in the Giants' practice match against Sydney's reserve side on Sunday.

The Swans' seconds dominated the match and won 23.16 (154) to 8.10 (58) at ANZ Stadium.

With fellow former rugby league international Karmichael Hunt making an inauspicious start to his AFL career with Gold Coast on Saturday night, there remain more questions than answers on league players' ability to make the switch.

On the same ground where he was a dominant force in State of Origin, Folau acknowledged he has a huge amount of work ahead of him.

"It is very challenging," he said. "The hardest thing for me is trying to read the play, that's what I've got to work on at training and when I play games.

"This whole year is going to be a big learning year.

"It was getting a bit frustrating trying to get the ball, but I think that's the way the game is."

Folau had his hands full for most of the day, predominantly matched up against former West Coast premiership player Mark Seaby and fellow Sydney ruckman Mike Pyke.

While there are some parallels between former Canadian rugby union international Pyke and Folau, they are light years apart in terms of their development.

The Swans were ridiculed in some circles for their experiment with Pyke, but he has managed 26 career games to date and is pressing for a recall after kicking three goals on Sunday.

Folau had a dog of a day on his 22nd birthday, regularly found wanting in marking contests and unable to get his hands on the ball.

It took until nine minutes into the second term for him to get a touch, but he was immediately wrapped up and penalised for holding the ball.

Moved out of defence midway through the third quarter, Folau spent time in the forward line and in the ruck, but couldn't get into the game.

Pyke spoke to Folau afterwards and offered some encouraging words.

"I had a bit of a chat with Pyke after the game and I can certainly learn a lot of things off him," Folau said.

"He just said to be very patient with yourself, don't have too high expectations, and after a year you start to feel a lot more comfortable."

Ever the optimist, Giants coach Kevin Sheedy did his best to talk up his highest-profile recruit.

"I thought he actually played okay in the backline," he said.

"We put him in the forward line and he got a little bit lost there for a while."

The Giants play their first official match in the new North East Australian Football League against Ainslie next week.

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