Folau tells of bitter battle to shift codes
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, playersvoice.com.au.
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.