Lolani Koko and Israel Folau, a comparison.

Israel Folau the mercenary sportsman has decided to forgo geo-political loyalties in order to maximise his utilities as a service providing contract professional. As a business entreprenuer, his profession, is playing rugby league, that is to say until recently, with his defection to Aussie Rules as the six million dollar man. The AFL have secured his duplicitous allegience, albeit, for the services of the new Great Western Sydney Australian Football League (AFL) competition, for season 2011.  
In sporting terms this means absolute moral capriciousness by Israel Folau for not only for the Brisbane Broncos club, but, for the National Rugby League (NRL) rugby league code ipso facto. Overall, such publicity has been a coup for the AFL much to the dismay and to a lesser extent expense of the NRL. The sport of AFL will be as much of a culture shock to Israel Folau as it would have been for a Logan City slicker from the Marsden area, heading southbound to the big smoke, in Melbourne, to play for the Storm. Then as a spritely excited young man burst into the NRL with such natural abilities dazzling the rugby league world with his unique talents. Regardless, of the opinions from many of the devouted fans, from their respective rugby league clubs, of which Israel Folau is a contracted rugby player, serving in their vested, sporting, and, perhaps, betting interests, Israel has crossed the Rubicon and will have some regrets but mostly he has seized a new business initiative.
As a Samoan, most will be familiar with this style of rugby stature from a similar player over twenty years earlier. Back then, a demi-god of a Samoan warrior on the footy field, Lolani Koko, had terrorised the South Pacific with his marauding incursions over the enemies trylines in test matches against Fiji and Tonga. Odes and songs in Lolani Koko’s honour were scribed by admirers in Samoa and elsewhere in the South Pacific.
The path of the Pacific Islander commodity to the world is very much based upon their provision of human resources albeit as providers of skilled and professional labour resource to the ‘core’ world. The entrepreneuralship of many Pacific Islanders, in practical terms, is based purely on their natural genetic talent, albeit, in skilled labour or professional labour provision such as sporting abilities. It has been all the better for the world of contact sports. Rugby union, American football, and rugby league have been contact sports which has welcomed the natural genetic predisposition of many Pacific Islanders, particularly, the Maori, Tahitian, Hawaiian, Rarotongan, Tokelauen, Niuen, Samoan and Tongan genes. The services of Pacific Islanders have been appreciated by the Australian Wallabies, Kangaroos, Maroons, Blues, The New Zealand All Blacks and the Kiwis, during the past century much to the betterment of all respective codes of contact sports. The Australian Football League (AFL) have yet to fully appreciate the value of the Polynesian athlete, that is to say, until now. It maybe impressive to note that the sport of AFL contact is made at all times which will be clearly appreciated by the Pacific Islander converts. Israel Folau will be given a cultural shock in his debut no doubt by the likes of Barry Hall, Fevola and other muscled big men of AFL. It will be no shrinking violets for the bellicose Polynesian warrior who dares to embarks on an AFL paddock and to tussle with the big men upfront.
Israel Folau is not an atypical abberation of sporting greatness from Samoa. There have been many could have been would have been contenders of yesteryear which in some microsmic corner of the world they are heralded as unforgettable legends of sports. Lolani Koko is such a goliath of Samoan sporting annals in which songs and poetry have been scribed in this man’s honour similar to the Jonah Lomu of Tonga, Loloani was considered as the ultimate athlete in Samoa. He was a champion in athletics as well as the most feared winger in Samoan rugby circles of over a decade, during the 1980s era.
With this reputation Lolani Koko made his debut for Wellington back in the 1990s. It was unfortunate for Lolani Koko that he had chosen to travel to NZ when rugby was still then an amatuer sport. Although Lolani Koko was of a similar stature to Israel Folau, if not slightly more heavyset, he was unable to display his rugby skills which had earned him his goliath reputation in the South Pacific rugby circles. Lolani Koko was nearing the twilight of his rugby career and was unable to rekindle his devastating abilities wit which he was renowned for back in Samoa. Moreover, unlike Lolani Koko, unillustrious world rugby debut, the rugby league world were fortunate to have discovered Israel Folau at his prime, whilst he is in hie teens from Marsden State High School along with Cameron Smith, Willie Tonga, etc.
The amount of negative publicity by the Queensland and New South Wales rugby league fraternity maybe considered very incriminating to the professional career of Israel Folau. It may even marginalise him from his rugby league mates. However, in Samoa, his reputation has already earned him the right to be mentioned in comparison to a living legend of rugby and indeed a sporting legend Lolani Koko of Samoa. That being said, Lolani Koko would be impressed with the abilities of this young precocious talent from Australia.
As a utility maximiser the pragmatic decision made by the young Israel Folau is indeed considered practical and sensible. The people of Samoa will careless of the purportedly tarnished reputation made to the NRL by Israel Folau’s defection to the AFL, if will serve in his and his family’s best interest then by all means do what is best for himself and his family.
Israel Folau is still considered as a sporting TOA amongst the Samoans.
Tofa soifua
Tim Tufuga

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