Israel Folau has quit the AFL. (Photo by Joosep
Parramatta are set to announce the signing of AFL
defector Israel Folau in coming days, with coach Ricky Stuart
revealing contract negotiations between the AFL convert, the
Eels and the ARL Commission are well advanced.
Stuart revealed yesterday the Eels had been involved in
hourly discussions with the game's governing body about the
best way to bring Folau back to rugby league after he quit
AFL on Thursday.
The former NSW and Australian coach stopped short of
declaring Folau's move to the 2012 wooden spooners a done
deal, but was very buoyant about their chances.
"We are in the fortunate position that Israel wants to play
for Parramatta," Stuart said.
"He is a western Sydney product. He has grown up here and he
has some good mates at the club.
"This is a great thing for rugby league and we are being up
front about it all.
"It's not a done deal but (Eels chief executive) Ken Edwards
has been in daily, hourly contact with the NRL.
"We are going about this the right way.
"This isn't just about Parramatta ... rugby league needs
Stuart said he had spoken with Folau since he announced his
decision on Thursday to quit AFL.
"I spoke to him yesterday afternoon ... I had a good chat
with him and everything tells me (he wants to return to rugby
"I'm only telling you what I know. It is so good for us. We
have had a tough couple of years but now we are moving in the
Stuart said his new club would do whatever it took to get
Folau's signature. However, he said the club would not ask
for financial assistance from the ARLC.
"We see him as a key target in regard to getting Izzy to play
for the Parramatta Eels," Stuart said on Friday.
"We will move heaven and earth to get him here.
"I see him being a great fit for Parramatta, a great fit for
the culture of our club.
"I'm pretty confident he wants to come back to the game.
"He didn't make that announcement because he is going to
Stuart praised Folau's decision in leaving behind the code he
had struggled to master in the past two seasons, and said he
would return to the NRL a better player
"It was a tough and courageous decision," Stuart said.
"He could have easily taken the money ... it was a very
courageous and honest move.
"It's such a great thing for rugby league that he has decided
to come back.
"It's what our game needs. We keep hearing about Sonny Bill
Williams coming back and, yesterday, you have that
announcement from Israel Folau.
"When you look at Izzy's age, I think the endurance levels of
what he had to achieve in AFL will only improve his game in
regard to his fitness and energy levels.
"Putting size back on won't be an issue for him either at his
age. The good thing is he is going to get a full pre-season
to prepare. He hasn't reached the pinnacle in his career yet
in rugby league."