Folau to stay in AFL: Kennelly

Folau to stay in AFL: Kennelly
By Eurosport

11/07/2012 at 08:53Updated 11/07/2012 at 08:54

One of AFL's great cross-code success stories Tadhg Kennelly is convinced Israel Folau won't head back to rugby league next season and has a bigger upside than Karmichael Hunt.

Irishman Kennelly, who played 197 games for Sydney after coming across from Gaelic football, believes Folau could end up being more valuable than Hunt - the AFL's other rugby league recruit.

Rumours about Folau's future continue to circulate, with media identity and former league star Matthew Johns earlier this week declaring "Israel, come home brother!".

Kennelly, who is coaching the NSW team at this week's national under-16 AFL championships in Sydney, has first-hand experience of what Folau is experiencing.

"I know myself after playing Gaelic football, I wasn't going to go back after playing one game or one year," Kennelly said.

"I'm certain he won't (go back to league), just on my own feeling of being a professional athlete and that you want to prove to people that it wasn't just a marketing tool."

Kennelly emphasised Folau was playing arguably the most difficult position on the ground, but also felt that could ultimately make him more valuable than second-season Suns star Hunt.

"He's a lot more upside than with Karmichael's game because he has that explosiveness in his game as a centre half forward that can win you a game," Kennelly said.

He had no doubt which was the bigger battle for sporting loyalties in Sydney.

"It's still the AFL versus the NRL rather than the Swans and the Giants at the moment," Kennelly said.

He was delighted by the Swans' surge to top spot.

"I'm surprised they've got plenty of run off halfback - they've been missing their Irishman," Kennelly joked.

He felt the traditionally low-key Swans could be blowing their cover, but felt people interstate couldn't ignore them.

"I don't think they would be too happy with going to the top of the ladder and drawing attention on them(selves)," Kennelly said.

"It's very Swans-like trying to get under the radar."

"People need to start sitting up and taking note of this team, that they are cementing themselves in the top four."

Kennelly led NSW to a whopping 120-point win over Northern Territory in their first game at the under-16 titles and wouldn't rule out a crack at senior AFL coaching one day.

"Certainly it's a possibility. It's something I won't say no to."