“He’s unstoppable in the air. The only problem is when he gets to the ball, everyone tries to escort him. You have to try and get the ball when opposition teams are not expecting it.
“If you’re one-on-one in the air, nobody in the game here or back home would out-jump him.
“All the backlash there has been about him [possibly returning] was always going to be an obstacle for him.
“But for a player of his quality, you’d probably get him for a lot less, and he’d be a great pick-up for any NRL club.
“I think he would be good for the game, and you want the best players playing in the competition. He’d only make the NRL better.
“All the boys got along with him here, and when he told us why he wasn’t coming back we all understood.”
Maloney said when Folau first signed it was not a distraction because most of the protests about the club welcoming him in after his controversial social media posts came mainly from the Australian and English press. He quipped he could never understand the local bulletins and papers “because it’s all in French”. Maloney said the anti-Folau sentiment quickly passed, helped by the fact he played in front of small or no crowds.
“He’s played at the top level in our game and the top level in rugby, and you don’t do that by accident,” Maloney said.
Premiership-winning St Helens coach Kristian Woolf, who also oversees the Tongan team, was another respected judge who backed Folau to make the most of a potential NRL second coming.
“His ability in the air is still there – he’s a real weapon and strike for your kickers,” Woolf said.
“He was also good at beating the man one-on-one and putting the winger away with his skill set. The more he plays the better he’ll get.
“I thought he made some really good strides last year.
“He’s a guy I’ve had little bits to do with over the years because of my affiliation with Tonga.
“When we first came back from [COVID] lockdown, we did a good job on him, but he got Mark Percival, who is a very good defensive centre, and he got in and away on him and beat him one on one, which was a show of class.”
Catalans owner Bernard Guasch said this week if Folau did find an NRL club, the French club would want proper compensation given the player still had a year to run on his current deal.
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Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.
Thank you for dropping in and reading this news article about local and Australian League news titled “Maloney praises Catalans teammate Folau”. This news article was presented by My Local Pages as part of our local and national news services.
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