Israel Folau Reveals Why He Quit The AFL

'I summoned up all the bravery I could.'

Israel Folau Reveals Why He Quit The AFL (Image: Getty)

Israel Folau has opened up on the tough conversation he had to have with his father about quitting Greater Western Sydney and the AFL.

Folau revealed he was convinced by his father to take up the AFL offer, saying it was "too good to turn down".

"I receive a call out of the blue. It’s the AFL. They have started a team called Greater Western Sydney and they want me to be a part of it. I had never played AFL before – never even considered it – but they are adamant they want me. And the offer is really, really big," he wrote on PlayersVoice.

"I’m nervous. I’m happy playing league and not sure how I’d go making the transition to the AFL. But my Dad is keen. ‘The AFL offer is too good to turn down,’ he says. ‘You can improve the lives of everyone.’ 

"I was intimidated by my Dad. He was strict in the way most Polynesian fathers are and I was scared and shy in the way most Polynesian sons are.

"I was hurting inside, but I didn’t talk back. My family was – and still is – everything to me. I didn’t want to be the son that was selfish and arrogant and let his family down. So I did what my Dad wanted me to do and signed."

But Folau, despite everything, didn't enjoy his time at the club, and he had to bring himself to tell his father he wasn't happy.

“There are three pillars to Polynesian life: family, faith and finances. They’re all connected,” he wrote.

"After two years at the Giants, I wasn’t happy. The money didn’t mean anything to me anymore. I missed league and was sick and tired of doing everything for other people. So I told my Dad I’d had enough. Yes, I was worried that the Polynesian community would think I had rebelled, but I just really wanted out of the AFL. Not at the end of my contract. Immediately.

"It was difficult and scary and contrary to everything I had done in my life to that point. I won’t go into the full detail of the arguments that followed – that’s between Dad and me – but let’s just say the conversation went back and forward for quite a while. So I summoned up all the bravery I could, looked him in the eye and told him again: ‘I’m leaving the Giants’.

"And he finally said, ‘OK’. It was the first time in my life I felt free. I was finally doing something I wanted to do and given myself a chance to grow as a person. It opened everything up.

"If I hadn’t made that decision, I would still be trying to break out of the cycle. But because of it, my Dad and I have a ten times better relationship than we used to."