EDITORIAL WEDNESDAY 02.06.10.
So Izzy a traitor? Izzy a stuntman? Or Izzy a valuable asset who should be retained by Queensland to give them the best chance of winning game two of the State of Origin, and thus wrapping up the series? The signing of Broncos Rugby League star Israel Folau to the new Greater Western Sydney AFL team has been described as very expensive publicity stunt, and as a very very big punt by the AFL. The immediate reaction from the Queensland Rugby League has been to declare that he has played his last State of Origin Match, amidst acrimonious cries of treachery, disloyalty and betrayal. But just who has Israel Folau betrayed?
While it remains to be seen whether or not he can actually kick a Sherrin, he has already scored a six pointer for the AFL in terms of the publicity for his new team and his new code. He’s also kicked a goal as far as his contract is concerned with a reported $3.6 million over four years for switching over to the dark side. In doing so, he leaves behind a code which is still struggling with an increasingly unworkable salary cap system which has resulted in the Melbourne Storm scandal, from which the fallout is still casting a shadow over the integrity of this year’s competition.
Anyone with any common sense can see that he would be a mug not to take the opportunity which has been presented to him. It’s an opportunity which can guarantee his future financial security, and the security of his family, and in the end those things are priorities for all of us. To deny him that, and to label him as a traitor is just petty. Worse than that, to punish his alleged disloyalty by dropping him from the State of Origin team is a simple case of cutting off the nose to spite the face. And it is spite. It is simply saying “this is what we do to punish people who dare to accept a better offer”, without considering the question of whether or not he is the best man for the job. After all, he is still contracted to play Rugby League until the end of the season, so why shouldn’t he do what he is paid for and play?
Picture this: the unthinkable happens and Queensland, playing without Israel Folau, loses the second match and the series is tied at one all. Do the selectors then beg him to come back to help the team secure a glorious Queensland victory? Or do they stick to their guns, even if it means they don’t field their best possible team? Surely, the first priority of selectors should be to consider who is available to play now, not what they plan to do next year and the year after.