Cheika sends a mes­sage

The West Australian - - SPORT - Dar­ren Wal­ton Sydney

Wal­la­bies coach Michael Cheika is con­fi­dent su­per­star Is­rael Fo­lau won’t walk away from rugby de­spite the di­vi­sive su­per­star un­der­stood to be on his last chance af­ter a se­ries of con­tro­ver­sial on­line posts about ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity.

Cheika yes­ter­day re­vealed he’d spo­ken to Fo­lau about so­cial me­dia use and would also re­mind his en­tire Wal­la­bies squad next month of their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties af­ter six weeks of tur­moil for the code.

De­spite con­tin­u­ing to preach his ex­treme reli­gious be­liefs on Twit­ter even since cri­sis talks with Rugby Aus­tralia boss Rae­lene Cas­tle last month, Cheika hopes fans have seen the last of Fo­lau’s provoca­tive posts.

“We need to be fo­cus­ing on footy and get­ting our­selves clear on a big se­ries com­ing up against the north­ern hemi­sphere cham­pi­ons (Ire­land),” Cheika said.

“To do that, we’ve got to have ev­ery­one fo­cused on footy.

“So this has been done. It’s been dealt with, so it’s not go­ing to be an on­go­ing is­sue.”

Cheika’s rev­e­la­tion comes less than 24 hours af­ter he said con­fused teenage fans needed to “de­tach” them­selves from Fo­lau’s po­ten­tially harm­ful posts and ditch the three-time John Eales medal­list as a role model.

Fo­lau is off con­tract at the

... Izzy wants to be part of the team, not just now, in the fu­ture as well. Michael Cheika

end of 2018 and Cheika is ea­ger to re­tain the full-back, but seem­ingly not at the ex­pense of dishar­mony and on­go­ing un­rest among fans, spon­sors and po­ten­tially the na­tional team’s ranks.

“We’ve spo­ken, but I’m not go­ing to be read­ing the riot act about that (on­line con­duct) to any­body,” Cheika said.

“I’m go­ing to be re­mind­ing guys what the team is about, what it means to be part of the team and then guys make their de­ci­sions from there.

“And Izzy wants to be part of the team, not just now, in the fu­ture as well.

“There’s a lot of peo­ple that think that he’s try­ing to use it as some tac­tic to get out of play­ing.

“If he wanted to go, he could go eas­ily.

“He wants to play rugby, he un­der­stands that he doesn’t want to af­fect the team around those things be­cause that’s my re­spon­si­bil­ity to the team.

“And I think, like I said, if it’s not on­go­ing, it’s not go­ing to be an is­sue.”

Picture: Mark Evans/Getty Images

Is­rael Fo­lau con­tin­ues to push his ex­treme reli­gious be­liefs on Twit­ter.

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