He came, he sucked, he utterly failed to conquer
Headless chickens everywhere can have their intellectual property back. There is no longer a human trying to imitate their every move after Israel Folau yesterday officially abandoned his AFL folly.
It’s hard to know who’s the biggest winner. The AFL wins because they can say their game is too hard for those Neanderthal leaguies to play. Folau wins, because he takes the money and runs. The Queensland State of Origin team and Folau’s likely new club Parramatta wins. And GWS wins, because they no longer have to carry a non-performer.
From the beginning, Folau was a mystifying choice as poster boy for the AFL’s great expansionist dream. Though born in Sydney’s south west, he played league for Melbourne, Brisbane and the Qld State of Origin team and was widely seen as a Queenslander.
He’s never been much of a natural talker either. That’s not to bag the bloke, but with a million dollar salary that was largely for PR purposes, you’d expect the bloke to be, you know, a little better at public relations. Sure, he attended his clinics and all those promotional appearances with his big toothy smile, but Folau was and is no Karmichael Hunt in the personality stakes.
He was no Hunt on the field either. The AFL’s other high profile league recruit has turned himself into a perfectly respectable midfielder at the Gold Coast Suns. He’ll probably never win a Brownlow, but he has proved himself lithe and adept at winning the ball. Folau always looked sluggish on an AFL field, and never looked like he knew where the ball was going to be.
His coach Kevin Sheedy covered for him. And covered, and covered, and covered some more. He actually said last year that Folau’s team-mates weren’t noticing his leads. That was classic dog-whistling Sheeds. What he was really saying is that Folau’s team-mates lacked the confidence to kick the ball anywhere near him, and it’d be nice if they occasionally gave him the benefit of their considerable doubt.
Folau’s not a bad guy, and this synopsis is not to kick dirt on him. It is merely to point out that a crazy experiment has sensibly been canned two years ahead of time.
The wider and more pressing issue now is what happens to GWS. Be clear on this. This whole “battleground western Sydney” narrative is rubbish. There’s no battleground out there. There is just general indifference. At Blacktown Station after a nearby GWS game last year, there wasn’t a single person in orange-and-charcoal, nor anyone who cared.
There is no animosity towards the AFL in western Sydney, just mostly apathy. Folau changed little. Indeed, the greatest asset for the Giants in 2012 and beyond was the premiership triumph of the Sydney Swans.
That might seem counter-intuitive given the Swans and Giants are cross-town rivals, but there are kids across Sydney who thrilled to the Swans’ victory. Those kids will grow up as fans of the code rather than the Swans, and could easily gravitate to the Giants.
To them, the name Folau will mean as little as it did to the scorekeepers at AFL grounds in 2012.
Comments on this post close at 8pm AEST
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…