Fo­lau re­fuses to back down

Sunday Star-Times - - SPORT - TOM DE­CENT

Wal­la­bies star Is­rael Fo­lau has spo­ken for the first time since tweet­ing his op­po­si­tion to same­sex mar­riage and says he will stand firm on what he be­lieves de­spite a wave of crit­i­cism.

It comes as Fo­lau made the star­tling claim that he doesn’t feel he is play­ing any­where near his po­ten­tial de­spite scor­ing 11 tries in eight matches this year and be­ing on track to break the try-scor­ing world record.

Three weeks ago, be­fore Aus­tralia’s last match against Ar­gentina in Can­berra, Fo­lau cre­ated a storm by ex­press­ing his op­po­si­tion to gay mar­riage on so­cial me­dia.

‘‘I love and re­spect all peo­ple for who they are and their opin­ions,’’ Fo­lau tweeted. ‘‘But per­son­ally, I will not sup­port gay mar­riage.’’

It prompted a na­tional de­bate, given Fo­lau was the first high­pro­file ath­lete to ex­press his sup­port for the ‘‘no’’ vote in one of the most po­lar­is­ing is­sues in Aus­tralian so­ci­ety.

Fo­lau has been re­luc­tant to speak to the me­dia since the tweet. Dur­ing an in­ter­view in Ar­gentina ahead of Aus­tralia’s clash to­day with the Pu­mas, the Wal­la­bies full­back was asked if he wanted to com­ment fur­ther.

‘‘I’m go­ing to stand firm on what I’ve al­ready said,’’ Fo­lau replied. ‘‘That’s what I be­lieve. I guess it doesn’t change any­thing for me and my mind­set is still first-hand with what’s go­ing on here with the Wal­la­bies. It hasn’t re­ally had an ef­fect on me at all, so I stand firm on what I be­lieve in and what I said.’’

Clearly the cir­cus sur­round­ing Fo­lau in re­cent weeks has lit­tle if any ef­fect on his on-field per­for­mances as he closes in on one of world rugby’s most pres­ti­gious records.

Fo­lau sur­passed Lote Aus­tralian mark – which Tuqiri’s the two

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