Exciting utility back Israel Folau has rebuffed a return to the NRL by signing a two-year deal with the Australian Rugby Union.
Exciting utility back Israel Folau has rebuffed a return to the National Rugby League by signing a two-year deal with the Australian Rugby Union.
The ARU revealed that Folau had committed to the code after a stellar first season with the Waratahs that led to his outstanding Test debut for the Wallabies against the British and Irish Lions.
Folau, a former rugby league international, has been a smash hit in union since switching codes from Australian Rules football and scored two tries in a memorable debut for the Wallabies in the first Test against the Lions in June.
“I've really enjoyed my first year for the Waratahs and being with the Wallabies,” Folau said.
“Next year is going to be an exciting year for the Wallabies and Waratahs and I've still got more to offer. That's the reason I decided to stay.
“The Rugby World Cup (in 2015) is definitely a drawcard. To be a part of that would be an awesome experience, but that's still a long time away and we've got a lot to achieve in the meantime.”
Folau has had a memorable and varied career – the youngest player, at 18, to make his rugby league Test debut for Australia, winning multiple State of Origin series with Queensland, an NRL grand final with Melbourne Storm and two seasons in the AFL.
He had been linked in reports with a return to the NRL and quizzed by reporters as to whether league club offers were not enticing enough, Folau said: “It's not so much the offers or anything like that.
“I still obviously watch the game (league) and support the game.
“It's just at the end of the day, I really enjoy what I'm doing at the moment with rugby and also looking down the track there's a lot of exciting things coming up for rugby and I want to be a part of that.”
In making his Test debut for the Wallabies against the Lions, Folau became the only player to compete at the highest level in all three of Australia's contact football codes.
The 24-year-old was one of the shining lights of the Wallabies' three-Test series against the Lions and scored a long-range intercept try in Australia's loss to the All Blacks in Wellington last weekend.
New Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said Folau had made the transition to rugby union with surprising ease and he would continue to develop with more time in the game.
“There's unlimited potential, he's got a lot of really good attributes,” explained McKenzie.
“He's enigmatic, he just does things a bit differently and it allows us to use him in different ways.”