Article

Folau speaks out over Waratahs move

4 December 2012 02:27

Israel Folau has hit back at suggestions his deal with the NSW Waratahs was a decision based simply on money.

Folau confirmed on Tuesday he would play his third different sport in four years after signing a one-year deal with the Super Rugby franchise.

After quitting his failed AFL stint with the GWS Giants last month, the 23-year-old was expected to return to rugby league with the Eels, only for the Waratahs to swoop when the parties couldn't come to an agreement.

Folau has copped plenty of flak over the decision, with some sections of the media labelling him a mercenary for the way he turned his back on the NRL.

The code-hopper said the speculation and comments had made it a difficult time for himself and his family but said he has no regrets about the way things have panned out and denied he made any promises to the Eels.

"I said right from the start that I was keeping my options open because I knew it would be hard for rugby league to accommodate me," Folau told reporters on Tuesday.

"I met with Parramatta on Friday. For me I had nothing to hide and I met with them face to face.

"I didn't promise anyone (at the Eels) anything. There were no promises at all.

"As I said at the press conference when I left the Giants, I was keeping my options open, and was looking at rugby league and rugby.

"It has been a tough week for me but I am happy with the decision. I class myself as a true person to me and my family so what has been said is upsetting.

"There were a number of factors in my decision to join the NSW Waratahs. I left GWS because I didn't have the passion for the game but because of timings I didn't know if I'd get anything.

"It's going to be a big transition. Playing as a schoolboy to Super Rugby is going to be a massive challenge."

It's understood Folau will earn $250,000 for his six month stint with the Waratahs.

Pressed on claims he switched to rugby because of the money, Folau said: "If I was in it entirely for the money I could have stayed in the AFL and played the next two years I had with them.

"I walked away from that deal and there was nothing that was secured for me in the future that was ready. For me it wasn't about that.

"People can say what they want, it doesn't bother me. At the end I'm happy and that's all that matters."

Folau said he would wait to see how he handled his new code before deciding whether to extend his one-year contract.

He credited new Waratahs coach Michael Chieka for getting him across to rugby.

"When I left (AFL) my first preference was to come back and play rugby league," Folau conceded.

"Things didn't work out the way I would have liked but when I met with Michael things felt right for me.

"The first time I met Michael I felt his presence as being a very honourable person. And that for me is very important.

"It just felt right."

Folau will train with his new side for the first time on Thursday and is likely to make his first appearance in the club's trial games in February against Melbourne and the Crusaders.

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