FORMER rugby league star and GWS recruit Israel Folau had only the four touches but “showed a little bit” according to Northern Bullants coach Darren Harris in the Bullants 89-point demolition in a Foxtel Cup match yesterday.
It was Folau’s first game at the MCG and coach Kevin Sheedy’s first match back at the ground where he holds many memories as coach of Essendon.
Harris believes there was still plenty of upside to Folau, who played mainly in defence and appeared to be a little lost at times.
Folau is mirroring the ealy efforts of Gold Coast’s Karmichael Hunt – who has made a successful transition to AFL albeit – at a slow pace.
Hunt, too, has been placed in defence by the Suns but struggled to impress in his VFL debut last season.
“He didn’t look that out of place I didn’t think. He showed a little bit. He ran to good spots. Physically, he looked very good. I think there’s some upside to him,” Harris said.
Harris, a development coach at the Blues, said he was impressed by Folau’s fitness to cover a lot of ground in which he admitted the Bullants didn’t put much work into him before the match.
Blues defender turned forward Bret Thornton, Folau’s direct opponent, was the star of the match with six goals in the 19.9 (123) to 5.4 (34) win.
GWS were kept goal-less until the third term with former North Ballarat midfielder Stephen Clifton among the best.
“No doubt he (Thornton) did play most of his career down back and he offers an option up forward, so he’s just got to wait for his next chance (at Carlton),” Harris said.
“We knew that if we could get in quick to him that we’d be a good chance.”
Brock McLean was the other star with 25 disposals in the midfield.
“He’s good in close and he covers the ground really well and he’s another one that needs to keep performing and wait for his opportunity to come,” he said.
The Bullants advance to the second round of the Foxtel Cup and meet WAFL side Claremont in the knock-out competition.
Harris said the team was out to win – no matter what competition it is.
“We’re all competitive beasts. Whether it’s a game of ping pong and we want to play as well as we can. The next VFL game we play next week and the next Foxtel Cup game, we’ll be wanting to win that too,” he said.
By Brent Diamond