Izzy Folau: Chance of a Lifetime by David Harding and Izzy Folau
Random House Australia, 2015 . ISBN 9780857986610
Izzy Folau: Reality Check. ISBN 9780857986634
(Age: Independent readers) This series featuring champion Israel Folau will be just what younger rugby fans will adore to tide them over the football season.
Its two stars, Daniel and Sione have both been picked for the Valley rep team to play at the State Championships. But they couldn't be more different with Daniel from an affluent family, attending sports-mad Barker College and having all the confidence in the world while Sione is from the other side of the tracks where his school holds a mufti day to raise the funds for him to attend the selection camp and he's so lacking in self-confidence that he doesn't go to school that day. But both have been picked and are off to camp to be coached by Izzy Folau.
As the series follows them through their training to the final match, as well as great tips about playing football there is also a strong undercurrent of sportsmanship, friendship and what it means to be a team member as well as believing in yourself, even when you're angry and frustrated and you don't reach the heights you were sure you could. Folau tells the boys, "I've changed sports a few times and every time I did there were people who weren't happy. Without meaning to I upset fans, the media, and, worst of all, my teammates. Each time I had to walk into a change room filled with people I didn't know to play a game I wasn't too sure about. I found it hard to be happy and relaxed sometimes, but I did my best to make it work. I trained, I was nice to people, I was a good teammate. You know why? . . . If I didn't, I might as well have gone home. It's the same for you guys. If you can't chill out, have fun and be proud of your achievements, then you might as well think about going home."
With episodes three and four in the series being released on the eve of the World Cup, this is a series for the young fan who is an independent reader who wishes they had the opportunities that Daniel and Sione and their teammates have. But even if they don't realise the dream of having Izzy Folau as their coach, there is much to learn and enjoy from this series.