Rugby league deserter Israel Folau has confirmed his career in AFL is over.
After spending two years with the Greater Western Sydney Giants the $1million-a-season sportsman confirmed at a media conference last night that his passion for the game has simply disappeared.
Folau’s stint with the Blacktown-based side may be over, but the departure can only be seen as plus for the NRL.
“The last two years I really enjoyed my experience at the Giants and I made a lot of good friends,” Folau said.
“In the end, I think the passion wasn’t quite there.”
Folau was spotted in deep discussion with Parramatta coach Ricky Stuart at Baulkham Hills and Campbelltown Hillsong churches in August. On another occasion he was also seen chatting with league agents who don’t represent him.
Rumours suggest the 23-year-old will sign on with Parramatta to play alongside his younger brother Eni.
While most AFL experts considered Folau’s stint a money-filled bomb, the NRL is set to embrace the return of one of its finest athletes.
At the age of 17, he made his debut for Melbourne Storm against West Tigers and played a starring role, scoring the match-winning try. He remains the youngest player to have represented the Storm.
He spent two years with the Storm, made 57 starts and scored 36 tries.
He then signed with the Brisbane Broncos for two years, making 38 starts with 37 tries.
From 2007 to 2009 he represented the Australian squad nine times, with five tries, and the Queensland State Of Origin side five times.
The NRL will welcome Folau with open arms, regardless of which team he joins. – Alicia Murti and Rosemary Farah