Fo­lau tells of bit­ter bat­tle to shift codes

Sunday Tasmanian - - Classifieds -

THREE-CODE foot­ball star Is­rael Fo­lau has opened up on the con­fronta­tion he had with his fa­ther when he made his de­ci­sion to leave his high-pay­ing AFL con­tract and re­turn to rugby league.

The tal­ented back, who ended up in rugby union af­ter leav­ing Greater Western Syd­ney, played his 59th Test for the Wal­la­bies last night against Ar­gentina in Can­berra.

But the jour­ney to get back to the foot­ball he wanted to play was a tough one for the 28-year-old be­cause of the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties he felt be­ing part of a tight-knit Poly­ne­sian fam­ily.

“There are three pil­lars to Poly­ne­sian life: fam­ily, faith and fi­nances. They’re all con­nected,” Fo­lau said, writ­ing for the new sports plat­form, play­

Fo­lau spoke sev­eral years ago of how he switched codes for both fam­ily and fi­nan­cial rea­sons.

But yes­ter­day he re­vealed more about the tough con­ver­sa­tions he had with his dad, Eni Fo­lau, as he be­came in­creas­ingly frus­trated about his shift from the NRL to the AFL.

“Af­ter two years at the Giants, I wasn’t happy. The money didn’t mean any­thing to me any­more,” Fo­lau said.

“I missed league and was sick and tired of do­ing ev­ery­thing for other peo­ple. So I told my dad I’d had enough.

“Yes, I was wor­ried that the Poly­ne­sian com­mu­nity would think I had re­belled, but I just re­ally wanted out of the AFL. Not at the end of my con­tract. Im­me­di­ately.

“It was dif­fi­cult and scary and con­trary to ev­ery­thing I had done in my life to that point,” Fo­lau said.

“I won’t go into the full de­tail of the ar­gu­ments that fol­lowed - that’s be­tween Dad and me - but let’s just say the con­ver­sa­tion went back and for­ward for quite a while.

“So I sum­moned up all the brav­ery I could, looked him in the eye and told him again: ‘I’m leav­ing the Giants’. And he fi­nally said, ‘OK’.

“It was the first time in my life I felt free.”

It was the first time in my life I felt free.


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