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» Israel Folau has been giving his little brother, John, tips on how to improve his game
Israel Folau has been giving his little brother, John, tips on how to improve his game
AS LATE as Monday night, superstar code-hopper Israel Folau was texting his younger brother John, letting him know where he could tidy up some areas in his game.
The NSW Waratahs fullback had just finished watching John play his third NRL match for Parramatta in their 22-6 defeat against Wests Tigers, and thought he’d flick his little bro some pointers.
“He’ll usually send me a ‘good luck’ text before each game, then he’ll sum up how I played,’’ John told The Daily Telegraph, making it clear he prefers “to be known as John, not Izzy’s brother’’.
“He told me there were a few things I needed to work on, but he was proud of me and to keep working hard at training.
“There were small things like ‘effort on effort’, just doing back-to-back stuff on the field.
“I listen to him, he’s been there, he’s been through it all, it’s just good to learn off him, and I try to make myself a better player.’’
John Folau has now featured on the wing the past three games for the Eels and last week re-signed with the club for a further two years.
Given his famous surname, there was always going to be plenty of interest in the 20-year-old from the outside world.
Softly spoken, tall and with similar facial features to his famous 26-year-old brother, John is a lot heavier than Israel, and revealed he was a rampaging backrower up until a few years ago.
“We’re two different people, we have two different playing styles, Izzy is more of a quicker, skilful person, while I like the body contact and the roughness,’’ John said.
“I actually grew up as a forward, and it was only when I came to Parramatta that I ended up in the outside backs.
“I’m on the wing now, but I’d say I’ve played less than 10 games there.
“Every game is a challenge. It’s not like junior footy where you have your good teams and your bad teams — every game in the NRL is tough. That’s what I’ve got to get used to.’’
The Eels wasted no time locking down Folau, 20, declaring on the weekend the youngster would be staying put until at least the end of 2017.
Halfback Chris Sandow went to school with Israel, and recalled John sitting on the sidelines watching the pair run around for Marsden State High School in Brisbane.
“I think Johnny was taller than me even back then,’’ Sandow said.
“I remember Johnny really well. He was quiet back then but to see him work really hard and get this opportunity is really good. He’s a big boy who is still learning the game.’’
After beating premiers Souths — and bagging two tries in the process — Folau and his teammates must somehow regroup against the Gold Coast.
The Eels’ two wins this season have come at home, and Folau is sure to have fans excited each time he touches the ball.
Israel is also guaranteed to drop his brother a few encouraging text messages after the game.
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