Aussie rules is an instinctual sport. It's a sport that, from a rugby background, is completely foreign. He was competing for a position against kids who grew up learning these instincts and the decision making. I guess it's hard to explain but the game is actually really hard to play, especially from a fitness and awareness point of view. Both rugby codes have the game in front of you. Aussie rules is 360 degrees. I played a number of games and was completely out of my depth. Then there's the fitness. A mate of mine who is right into AFL says there's a reason you don't see a lot of young players (straight out of school etc) playing the game. It's because they spend a season or two getting conditioned. Folau dropped plenty of weight but still didn't have the fitness. Karmichael Hunt is getting there but he's continually injured, only lasts 3/4 of a game and is playing in the reserves. There's a good rumour out that Hunt will be playing RU for the Qld Reds next year.
As for him clicking in RU, well his positional play is exceptional. What you sometimes see with rugby league converts is that they don't go looking for the ball. There's no left and right centre in RU and wingers typically come off their wing a lot. Last year he was still learning the game and he surprised a lot of people. This year he's gone up a notch. The majority of his tries are from being the last man in a backline movement or gathering an offload. It's a great thing to see and it shows he's following the ball and knows exactly where to be. I'm certain he'll be go back to the NRL one day but I hope he stays in RU until after next year's world cup.
I can understand what you mean about the 360 degrees issue and the different spatial awareness etc. I think the different fitness requirements would also be an issue. I think that's what it is though - just different. I don't know any AFL players, but I am sure they would struggle equally moving to either rugby code with the different fitness requirements.involved, not to mention the collisions and, particularly in League, the need to be back in the game and performing immediately after said collision. My only other comment would be that some people in AFL obviously thought that he could make the grade in AFL.
As for Falou in union - I realise that he is, and will always be, learning the game but his transition was almost seamless and, whether he fit the bill exactly or not in terms of being a "union" player, he excelled from day one and brought something different and exceptional to the sport, which far out-weighs any deficiencies he may have as a convert.