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Folau - the Face of League
Brisbane Broncos centre Israel Folau has snared a lucrative deal with Sportswear giant Adidas that will see him replace Mark Gasnier as the NRL's 'Face of League'.
Born in Minto, New South Wales to parents of Tongan descent, Folau attended Westfield Sports High School in Fairfield in Sydney's west before his family moved to Brisbane. The youngster attended Marsden State High School in Waterford, south of Brisbane, before being selected for the Queensland School Boys squad in the Australian Under-15 Championships.
The 19-year-old has been elevated to superstar status since his debut with the eventual premiers Melbourne Storm in 2007, the teenager scoring 21 tries and breaking team-mate Billy Slater's previous NRL record of most tries in a debut season.
Folau played another season in 2008 with the Storm before signing a four-year deal with the Broncos, citing a desire to live closer to his family in Brisbane.
The youngest player to represent Australia, Folau already has an impressive trophy cabinet that includes Dally M Rookie of the Year in 2007 and Centre of the Year in 2008. He was also named State of Origin Man-of-the-Match in game three of 2008 while playing for the Queensland Maroons.
Starting next month, Folau's face will be seen on billboards and bus shelters in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne as part of the Adidas advertising campaign. He will also be wearing a specially tailored boot in 2009 as well as appearing in a number of television appearances for Powerade.
Last year, Folau's immediate football career was in doubt after he revealed he might quit the NRL to embark on a two-year religious mission. But Folau now says he is committed to rugby league and playing with the Broncos.