NRL: Folau linked with Eels

Israel Folau announced his departure from the AFL yesterday. Photo / Getty Images
Israel Folau announced his departure from the AFL yesterday. Photo / Getty Images

Israel Folau admits the thought of playing at the same NRL club as his younger brother Eni is appealing but the code-hopping star insists his future is uncertain despite being heavily linked with Parramatta.

Folau, who announced on Thursday he was quitting AFL club Greater Western Sydney, claimed he hadn't spoken to any NRL teams about playing in 2013 but Parramatta CEO Ken Edwards told AAP the Eels have met with the star.

The NRL wooden spooners are in a rebuilding phase with former NSW coach Ricky Stuart at the helm with Folau one of several big names linked to the battling club.

"We have had discussions with him recently and hope to organise further talks with his management," Edwards told AAP.

"His brother Eni plays with us in the under 20s so there's a family link. That might be important but nothing is certain.

"(And) Ricky (coach Ricky Stuart) and Izzy have a really healthy respect for each other."

The 23-year-old former NRL star, who completed two years of a four-year deal understood to be worth $1 million per year, even suggested on Thursday rugby union was an option for him.

But Folau said the decision on his future was in the hands of his management team and denied speaking with the Eels.

"At this stage, I've had no discussions with any clubs at all," he said.

"I'll leave it up to my management to control that stuff ... I haven't had no discussions with any club so I can't confirm anything.

"My future at the moment is uncertain. I still don't know what to do."

The former Melbourne, Brisbane, Queensland and Australian rugby league star admits he'd like to play at the Eels with 19-year-old brother Eni, who is a member of Parramatta's under 20s side.

"It'd be nice but, like I said, that's not a thing for me ... At this stage, I don't know what I'm doing," he said.

He played just 13 games with Greater Western Sydney but coach Kevin Sheedy defended Folau who he said was a great athlete and a pleasure to work with.

"Unfortunately, he is in a very difficult position. You put him in an excellent side in the AFL down in Melbourne - a side that's in the eight - they'd have the ball 50 times a match. Would he kick more goals? Yes. Would he have a better disposal coming into him? Yes," Sheedy said.

In the end, Folau said his heart wasn't in AFL.

"... I didn't quite have the passion there and I would have been cheating myself," he said.

"It wouldn't be fair also for the club - they've got a lot of great young players ... I gave it my best shot in the last two years."

Folau's decision to quit the AFL was well-received in the NRL.

Master coach Wayne Bennett says Folau will quickly regain superstar status if he returned to rugby league.

"He is a unique player," Bennett told AAP.

"A lot of us were disappointed to see him go (to AFL) and it's great that he is coming back."

NRL interim CEO Shane Mattiske also welcomed Folau's announcement.

"We're happy for Israel," Mr Mattiske said.

"This is about people working in the interests of an individual in good faith and letting someone play the game that he is passionate about."

- AAP

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