Sport

Waratahs new recruit Folau sets sights on Wallabies jersey

WHEN Israel Folau first left AFL outfit the GWS Giants, he wanted to play rugby league.

That was just last month, but now he wants to be a Wallaby.

Folau was set to sign with Ricky Stuart's Parramatta before the negotiations hit a standstill and frustrated the talented young outside back.

That was due to NRL salary cap auditor Ian Schubert stepping in and taking a tough stance, not letting the 23-year-old sign for anything less than $400,000, allowing the Waratahs to swoop with a one-year offer.

At the time Folau announced his decision to quit the AFL, he said he was keeping his options open.

However, it was widely known he had been talking to Eels officials about joining their club next year.

Stuart, who only last month spoke of his delight at the highly likely prospect of signing Folau, publicly criticised Folau's motives this week for allegedly turning his back on the Parramatta club.

Folau has also been branded as a mercenary for leaving the Eels high and dry and signing for more money at the Waratahs franchise.

But the freelance footballer went back to reference his November 1 press conference after he quit the AFL, when he signed with NSW yesterday.

He reiterated that last month he did not make any guarantees he would join the 13-man code.

"I didn't promise anything. Like I said in the press conference, from the time I left the Giants all my options were open in rugby league and rugby union," he said.

Folau then went on to say he would love to go on and represent the Wallabies in the same fashion as former league-turned rugby union converts Wendell Sailor, Lote Tuqiri and Mat Rogers.

"Obviously I do, yeah. Everyone wants to represent their country," he said.

"When I met (Waratahs coach) Michael (Cheika), things felt good and felt right for me.

"When I make decisions, I do them on how I feel and what feels good for me."

Folau maintained him and his manager Isaac Moses had nothing to regret from their talks with the Eels.

"I met with Parramatta on Friday and for me there was nothing to hide," he said.

"I told them what my decision was and how I was feeling and that's how I operate. I've got nothing to hide.

"If I was entirely in it for the money, I could've stayed in AFL and played out the next two years, but I walked away from that deal.

"When I left (AFL) my first preference was to come back and play rugby league, but things didn't work out the way I would've liked."

Topics:  afl australia gws giants israel folau nsw waratahs rugby union salary super rugby wallabies



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