Fo­lau faces more scru­tiny af­ter re­fus­ing to take knee be­fore Saints’ rout of Cata­lans

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Rugby League - By Ross Hep­pen­stall

Is­rael Fo­lau’s con­tentious re­fusal to take the knee over­shad­owed Su­per League’s restart as the com­pe­ti­tion re­turned af­ter a hia­tus of al­most five months.

Al­ready an out­cast in his home­land af­ter be­ing sacked by Rugby Aus­tralia in May 2019 for a so­cial me­dia post claim­ing “hell awaits” gay peo­ple, the Cata­lans Dragons cen­tre and fun­da­men­tal­ist Chris­tian came un­der re­newed scru­tiny here. As every other St He­lens and Dragons player took the knee shortly be­fore kick-off, Fo­lau stood on the right-hand touch­line – the lone dis­sent­ing fig­ure in fail­ing to show sup­port for the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment.

Su­per League told its clubs that the com­pe­ti­tion would be fol­low­ing foot­ball in tak­ing the knee and Dragons coach Steve McNa­mara said: “As a club, as a group of play­ers and coach­ing staff, we spoke about it in depth be­fore­hand. As a club we are com­pletely against racism and all for equal op­por­tu­nity. But there were some play­ers and staff who made the de­ci­sion not to take the knee. That was based on per­sonal choice and we de­cided we would re­spect any­one’s per­sonal choice on the mat­ter.”

Af­ter his rugby union ca­reer ended in dis­grace last year, Fo­lau was barred from re­turn­ing to rugby league in the NRL. A storm brewed when he was al­lowed to join Cata­lans at the start of the Su­per League sea­son ear­lier this year. The 31-yearold was warned that any fur­ther con­tro­versy would re­sult in his con­tract be­ing ter­mi­nated.

McNa­mara’s team were com­pre­hen­sively beaten by de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons St He­lens, who in­cluded the re­turn­ing James Gra­ham in their side. Lach­lan Coote scored and then set up James Bent­ley be­fore Zeb Taia made it 16-0. A se­cond Coote try and a Tommy Makin­son score fol­lowed, with James Mal­oney re­ply­ing be­fore Alex Walm­s­ley un­der­lined St He­lens’ su­pe­ri­or­ity.

Stance re­jected: Is­rael Fo­lau was the only player to stand, rather than take the knee

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.