OPINION: He looks so good, that Sonny Quade-Folau. He is the ultimate first choice athlete. The man who has football administrators throwing $100 notes like confetti. The dynamic ball of muscle the Olympic sports can't even dream of getting in a rowboat or on a badminton court. This guy does not play for gold medal bling and peanuts.
Sonny Quade-Folau is the X-factor. The man you think can push your club through the premiership window, or drag it from the floor. Who can attract TV eyeballs and convert those impressionable kids. A gun for hire in the battle of the codes.
But before you book the luxury yacht and prepare to wine and dine him, there are a few things you should know. Things that should be tattooed in capital letters on this ultimate Generation Y athlete, if there was room left. When you play with Sonny Quade-Folau, you play by his rules.
No disrespect to you or your game - rugby league, is it? But Sonny Quade-Folau is a man in demand. He may not be tied down by dated conventions such as multi-year contracts or - can you believe people still use this term? - club loyalty. He is here for a pay time, not for a long time.
Yes, Sonny Quade-Folau is eternally grateful your code has identified his talents and made him a lucrative offer - an eternity, for him, being the time between eating breakfast and tweeting that it was scrambled eggs on toast. But don't spend too long working out the details. After all, in the month it takes you to balance the salary cap, Sonny Quade Tippett-Folau could have done lucrative guest stints in Japan and France and fought on the Anthony Mundine undercard.
But let's say Sonny Quade-Folau agrees to join your rugby league. Don't expect him to do handstands for the media, or to say he is eternally grateful to play this great game, or that he feels like he is coming home (''I have played this game before haven't I? It's the one where you get four points for a try and those people from Queensland keep nagging you to say you were born in Ipswich?'')
Sonny Quade-Folau will only do a press conference to announce his new deal if he can also promote his next fight and make it clear to his old paymasters at rugby union or the AFL or the International Marbles Association that - wink, wink - I'm not gone forever. Maybe only a one-year deal here. Don't be strangers next September.
To be fair, Sonny Quade-Folau does not lead you down the garden path. It might be Christmas, but he makes it perfectly clear the only clause he may believe in is the get-out clause. The one that ensures his ''loyalty'' is fully transportable. So don't blame him after that big win when he sings the wrong song or fret that he calls everyone at the club ''mate''. Can't expect him to remember a new bunch of teammates every season.
Which is not to say Sonny Quade-Folau will not abide by team rules. He even took the trouble to write them down for you. Preferred position, required personal training staff and, of course, the time off needed for those pay-per-view bouts. There are photocopies for the coaches and the team. Do you mind handing them out? Sonny Quade has a personal sponsorship commitment?
What's that? You've seen him do three laps in sport's revolving door, read his demands and you are still interested? You think taking over his multimillion-dollar contract will be a coup for club and code? That all those people who were supposed to have become baked-on supporters watching him play another game will now follow yours?
Don't you see the absurdity in that logic? That the loyalty of the supporters who follow Sonny Quade-Folau from one sport to another is as disposable as his. That the humiliation these inter-code footballing freelancers may inflict upon your code, and your clubs, is greater than the exposure they bring?
Until you work that out, Sonny Quade-Folau will have you over a barrel.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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