To 2018, whinging Aussies
‘ If we can post ... Cooper Cronk and his wife Tara kissing, then we can share a photo of Karina Brown and Ness Foliaki sharing a moment too.’ NRL STATEMENT
Describing their relationship to NRL earlier this month, Brown and Foliaki said they had been openly competitive with each other in the lead-up to the Origin match, at times not even talking with each other so they can focus on the sport.
The inaugural Women’s State of Origin has been hailed a huge leap forward for women’s rugby league. The game gained the Origin branding this year after 19 years of being known as the Interstate Challenge and attracted a crowd of 6824 to North Sydney as well as a TV live broadcast.
But the online backlash at the kiss photo is exactly what Aussie sports bosses wouldn’t have wanted so soon after the controversy surrounding Israel Folau’s comments about gay people being destined to go to hell.
In a comment to one of his 337,000 Instagram followers, who asked the Wallabies player what was ‘‘God’s plan for gay people’’, he responded: ‘‘HELL.. Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.’’
Auckland-born Foliaki moved to Australia eight years ago – and was a late convert to league after starting out in rugby union.
‘‘It was always a dream to play for New Zealand, but since I moved here I got my opportunity and I want to keep playing for Australia,’’ she told the Central Western Daily in 2015.
2014 was Foliaki’s first year of rugby league. A former Orange Emus, Central West andNSW Country rugby union representative, and former Orange Hawks and Group 10 women’s league tag star, Foliaki moved to Sydney in 2014 to play rugby union with the Parramatta Two Blues.
‘‘I only really started playing rugby league for a bit of extra fitness,’’ she said. ‘‘From there I got picked for NSW [in the 2014 Women’s Interstate Challenge] then for the Test match, and then for the Nines. It worked out pretty well.’’
‘‘Pretty well’’ might have been a little bit of an understatement as that 2015 Nines tournament staged in Auckland saw her targeted by her former Kiwis colleagues and come in for a bit of tough tackling.
‘‘I was born in Auckland, so to be able to do that in my home town was amazing,’’ Foliaki said at the time.
‘‘My parents were there too, and it was the first time they had seen me play. I thought I played pretty well, apart from getting absolutely smashed that time.
‘‘I’d grown up playing rugby with a lot of the New Zealand girls, so I knew they all wanted to smash me.’’