To 2018, whing­ing Aussies

Sunday News - - FRONT PAGE -

‘ 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.’’

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