When Israel Folau inevitably crawls back to the National Rugby League next year after moonlighting as a rugby union player following a failed attempt at becoming an AFL star, they should tell him to shove it.

The NRL bent over backwards to look after the mercenary, with Parramatta Eels’ coach Ricky Stuart helping him get out of his AFL contract.

Sure, his AFL deal was worth an annual AUS$1.5m for two more years, but Folau wasn’t cut out for the code.

His physical presence is undoubted, although Aussie Rules’ speed and stamina needs saw him slim down below rugby needs.

But two more years of embarrassing himself with the GWS Giants as a crap player on a crap team, would have decreased his stocks.

He surely knew that.At 23, Folau’s best days are ahead. By that I mean best money-making days.

No club could fit Folau’s salary cap auditor-designated $400k into their roster at late notice, and when that was reduced it to a paltry $250k, it was too late.

He quit AFL on Nov 1 and wanted a deal sorted straight away – he told Parra he wouldn’t be an Eel on Nov 31 after he and management explored other options, one of which was rugby union and the Waratahs.

The former Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos centre/winger liked the cut of Tahs coach Michael Cheika’s jib, and the quickly constructed $350k for one year offer for a game he hasn’t played since school.

And after that, the guy had the audacity to say his first priority was rugby league and that a return is “still on the cards”. “If I do enjoy [rugby union] it might be play on,” he said. If and might?

He’s deadset taking the piss.Maybe he’ll be great at rugby, and good on the Waratahs, but would the ARU be willing to risk putting the effort into another NRL player who will leave anyway (see Rogers, Sailor, Tuquiri)? When he goes back, the NRL owe him nothing.

I feel sorry for Laurie Daley though – Folau’s a product of Minto, NSW, but inexplicably played Origin for Queensland, so him lining up for the Tahs will be the only time to see him in blue.

» Agree or disagree? Is Folau a money-chasing turncoat or genius? letters@tntmagazine.com

Ashes skippers carrying load

The third match against South Africa was the real Test for Australia, the one which didn’t gloss over the immense frailties of a team relying far too heavily on veterans and skipper Michael Clarke. 

Pup’s double-tonnes put Australia in a position where they couldn’t lose the first Test in Brisbane and then in a position to win in Adelaide against the world number ones, but his bowlers, despite Herculean efforts, couldn’t do the job in what should have been ample time.

When Clarke didn’t deliver in Perth, the rest of the line-up collapsed and the Aussies were pumped.England’s Alastair Cook finds himself in a similar situation, with his immense form consistent with excellent team results.

But they’re in a better place than the Aussies ahead of the Ashes.

Australia can’t always rely on Pup, who will likely be exposed higher up the order in lieu of better options.The Ashes 2013, call it Clarke v Cook.


Photos: Getty