Folau set to switch to AFL: report?
Giant rugby league centre Israel Folau will inform the Brisbane Broncos on Tuesday he is accepting a massive offer to switch to the AFL.
The 21 year-old, who has played eight Tests for Australia and six State of Origin games for Queensland, will sign a three-year deal with expansion AFL club Greater Western Sydney, who enter the competition in 2012.
The deal is worth a reported $3 million.
Folau will be the second big name Bronco to make the leap to AFL after another of the club’s superstars, fullback Karmichael Hunt, signed a big deal with the Gold Coast Football Club which will debut in the code next year.
Hunt said on Monday he thought Folau would be able to make the move from the NRL without any problems.
"He definitely has the skill set to make the transition," Hunt told a packed press conference on the Gold Coast.
Folau, who is 195cm and 102kg, is very similar in build to Brisbane Lions full forward and AFL juggernaut Johnathan Brown.
His high leaping exploits in rugby league have excited fans but there are concerns he may not have the kicking game to make a success in the AFL.
With Brisbane winning their last three NRL games to surge back into the top eight and Queensland winning the opening State of Origin game in Sydney last Wednesday night there was a pool of thought Folau may have been wavering about leaving the code.
Folau said on Monday he would seek some advice from Hunt about his decision after ruling out a $600,000-a-season offer from Melbourne’s new Super 15 franchise, the Melbourne Rebels.
It’s understood he will speak to Broncos coach Ivan Henjak on Tuesday about his move, ending months of intense speculation about his future.
Earlier this month he failed to take up a two year option on his Broncos contract for season 2011-12.
There’s been speculation Folau, whose family live in Brisbane, wants to get some independence and moving to Sydney as the face of a new franchise gives him that opportunity.
Folau is understood to have undergone extensive AFL "testing" with GWS.
Unlike Hunt, who will have just two or three games to prepare himself for his greatest sporting challenge, Folau would have 12 months of playing in the VFL competition to ready him for his debut in 2012.
Folau’s place in Queensland’s Origin side for the second game of the series seems safe despite his switch after Maroons coach Mal Meninga had a change of heart from his initial stance against selecting him if he was leaving rugby league.
But former Queensland State of Origin great Gorden Tallis said he should be barred from selection.
"If he’s going to go you just put Brent Tate in or you put in a young winger or a young centre," Tallis told Fox Sports.
"If he does (sign to play AFL) you don’t let him play in our showpiece, something that he loves."
Tallis said Folau’s high price signing would create jealousy within the team and the franchise would struggle to attract crowds once the novelty wore off, particularly if they started losing matches.
"They are actually ruining their own game – it is going to be a novelty act," he said.
Are you surprised?
Yet another act of greed.. Turned down $600,000 in union for $1,000,0000 in AFL.. Pretty obvious if you ask me. Him and Khunt will be so happy together rolling in their bags of money… that is… until they realise they don’t know how to play AFL..
What is with AFL and Union trying to build themselves rugby league teams.. Have they finally come to realise that we are better then them?
Good riddance. If all he’s interested in is the money then he can go wherever he likes, I don’t care.
I’d laugh if he can’t kick a ball.