JUNIOR rugby league players from Goodna say “it sucks” that club alumni and football superstar Israel Folau is on the verge of abandoning the game they love.
Folau is expected to leave rugby league to be the face of the new rugby union franchise the Melbourne Rebels.
It is believed Folau would have to sacrifice more than $400,000 a year if he stayed in rugby league.
There is also an offer from AFL on the table but it is understood Folau would not switch to such a vastly different game.
He is now officially off contract after declining to sign a contract extension with his club the Brisbane Broncos last Friday.
But the wide-eyed under-13 Goodna Eagles boys said they hoped Folau would stay loyal to rugby league.
“He’s an awesome player,” Eagles junior Treavon Drahm said.
“It sucks that he’s leaving.
“I love league. I don’t like union. I don’t understand it and he shouldn’t go there. He’s a legend.”
Folau played for Goodna as a teenager and, while he only spent two seasons at the club, he now tells kids at junior clinics that they should play for the Eagles if they want to play league.
Two of Folau’s brothers, Sione and Eni, also played for the Eagles for several years.
Eni is on a Broncos scholar- ship while Folau’s cousin Soape Palau also played for the Eagles, but left this year to play rugby union on a scholarship for Churchie.
The man who coached Folau’s brothers and cousin, Terry Meedham, said talent ran in the bloodline.
“They all have potential. Soape is a five-eight and skinny, so he’s a different player to Israel, and Eni is a big prop with a lot of talent,” he said.
Goodna Eagles juniors president Norma Kumar said Folau was a great ambassador for the club.
“Some of the kids here came because Folau told them to at a junior clinic or a signing session,” she said.
“They say we came here because Israel said to.
“He has been good to the club and I don’t want to see him leave league.”