Ex-Sydney chairman Richard Colless has fired a pre-finals derby rocket at GWS Giants, branding their Israel Folau experiment irresponsible and dumb.
Colless was at the helm when Lance Franklin joined Sydney on an unprecedented $10 million, nine-year deal, and on Wednesday he lauded the former Hawthorn superstar’s contribution as “extraordinary”.
But he said the Giants erred badly early on, chasing a player purely for his marketability when they were preparing to join the AFL.
Folau made the cross-code jump from rugby league in 2011 but only played 13 AFL games over two seasons, kicking just two goals, before leaving for rugby union.
“You’ve got to recruit because they’re going to contribute on the field,” Colless told AAP.
“The Israel Folau experiment at GWS was an absolute waste of money.
“It was irresponsible and dumb.
“I don’t think you could ever justify signing someone from a marketing point of view.”
Colless says the Swans made a decision to secure the best player when they went after Franklin – who turned down the Giants offer of a six-year contract.
Heading into Saturday week’s finals blockbuster against the Giants at ANZ Stadium, Franklin is arguably in career-best form.
He hasn’t missed a match this season and has booted 74 goals, just five shy of his 2014 debut season for the Swans when he claimed a third Coleman Medal.
Franklin will be in his mid-30s by time the final year of his $10m contract rolls around in 2022.
But Colless believes he can play all the way through.
“He’s moving more fluently than I can recall,” he said.
“You won’t make nine years unless you’ve got a really tailored training regime but it’s his passion.
“(Franklin) has been extraordinary and is genuinely a once-in-a-generation player.
“I’m not saying he’s the best of all time but he lifts everyone else around him, his teammates and supporters.”