Israel Folau, the AFL’s second big-name rugby recruit, admitted a week before his first AFL game that he swapped codes because the newly formed Greater Western Sydney offered him a far greater contract than any rugby league club could.
In an AFL media documentary, From Boys to Giants, Folau confesses that money was the biggest factor in his switch to footy, stating that his greatest priority was to look after his family.
"With my family and that, mum and dad, I've got to look after them," Folau says in the documentary.
"It's not just about me really personally, the decision I've made wasn't about me, it was about me and my family.
"Because if it was about me, I think I probably would have just stayed playing rugby league.
Folau began his professional sporting career at the age of 17 and immediately became a star with the Melbourne Storm in the NRL. Folau played 52 games with the Storm in 2007 and 2008 where he broke the record for most tries in a debut season. From 2009-10, Folau played two more NRL seasons with the Brisbane Broncos while becoming the youngest player to represent Australia and Queensland in the State Origin matches.
Folau signed with Greater Western Sydney in 2011 learning the game in the North East Australian Football League in preparation for the club’s inaugural 2012 season. A few learning curves have been part of the process as Folau learns a completely new ball sport, but his improvements have consistent and noticeable.
The 23-year-old was expected to play a staring role in the club’s first game against cross town rivals, the Sydney Swans, this Saturday night but he may now have to wait a little longer after being involved in a couple of controversial incident’s in the club’s 74 –point loss to Richmond in a practice match last weekend.
Folau was booked with two rough conduct charges, one for a minor incident against Daniel Jackson and another for an exceptionally hard tackle on Brett Deledio.