Fo­lau gets the all-clear

The Daily Examiner - - SPORT - with Jamie Pandaram

Is­rael Fo­lau will not be sanc­tioned by Rugby Aus­tralia for his con­tro­ver­sial stance on ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity.

RA boss Rae­lene Cas­tle has been sat­is­fied by a col­umn in which the Wal­la­bies star, who is off con­tract at the end of the year, re­it­er­ates his re­li­gious con­vic­tions af­ter claim­ing on so­cial me­dia ear­lier this month that gay peo­ple are des­tined for hell un­less they re­pent their “sins”.

“In his own words, Is­rael said that he did not in­tend to up­set peo­ple in­ten­tion­ally or bring hurt to the game. We ac­cept Is­rael’s po­si­tion,” Cas­tle said in a state­ment yes­ter­day.

It came af­ter Fo­lau said he would quit rugby if his po­si­tion be­came un­ten­able, as his faith took pri­or­ity over his ca­reer.

In a col­umn posted on Mon­day night on the Play­er­sVoice web­site, Fo­lau also said he felt mis­rep­re­sented by Cas­tle.

“Dur­ing the meet­ing (with RA on April 10) I told them it was never my in­ten­tion to hurt any­one with the In­sta­gram com­ment, but that I could never shy away from who I am, or what I be­lieve,” Fo­lau wrote.

“They ex­plained their po­si­tion and talked about ex­ter­nal pres­sure from the me­dia, spon­sors and dif­fer­ent parts of the com­mu­nity, which I un­der­stand.

“I ac­knowl­edge Rae­lene and An­drew have to run things in a way that ap­peals broadly to their ex­ec­u­tive, fans and spon­sors, as well as its play­ers and staff. It is a busi­ness.

“Af­ter we’d all talked, I told Rae­lene if she felt the sit­u­a­tion had be­come un­ten­able – that I was hurt­ing Rugby Aus­tralia, its spon­sors and the Aus­tralian rugby com­mu­nity to such a de­gree that things couldn’t be worked through – I would walk away from my con­tract, im­me­di­ately.

“I feel I need to ex­plain this part in more de­tail be­cause at no stage over the past two weeks have I wanted that to hap­pen.”

Fo­lau de­nied he was angling to get a re­lease from his RA deal to pur­sue an NRL con­tract, say­ing he had over­seas rugby of­fers that were way above any­thing he could earn in Aus­tralia.

“It’s about what I be­lieve in and never com­pro­mis­ing that, be­cause my faith is far more im­por­tant to me than my ca­reer and al­ways will be,” he wrote.

“Af­ter the meet­ing I went home, turned on the TV and was re­ally dis­ap­pointed with some of the things that were said in the press con­fer­ence.

“I felt Rae­lene mis­rep­re­sented my po­si­tion ... and did so to ap­pease other peo­ple, which is an is­sue I need to dis­cuss with her and oth­ers at Rugby Aus­tralia.

“That aside, I hope Rae­lene and An­drew ap­pre­ci­ate my po­si­tion.” In his col­umn, Fo­lau re­in­forced his be­lief that gays were des­tined for hell un­less they re­pented, cit­ing the Bi­ble.

Ear­lier yes­ter­day, Waratahs coach Daryl Gib­son re­mained hope­ful Fo­lau would not walk away from the game.

“I’ve read (the col­umn) – I thought it was a very bal­anced ar­ti­cle,” he said.

“It cer­tainly ex­plains his point of view and gives us all a greater un­der­stand­ing of his per­spec­tive.

“What I have been re­ally im­pressed with is the team have sup­ported Is­rael.

“We may not all agree with his be­lief but we sup­port him as a team­mate and his right to ex­press that free­dom.”

PHOTO: CRAIG GOLDING/AAP

STRONG BE­LIEFS: Star Waratah and Wal­laby Is­rael Fo­lau is pre­pared to walk away from the game.

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