Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says he won’t pick Israel Folau again due to the disruptions to player culture and team image his controversial religous social media posts bring.
Cheika’s stance comes as Folau battles to keep his contract from being torn up by Rugby Australia. But even if he keeps his deal, the Wallabies coach appears to have drawn a line in the sand for good.
Cheika spoke to media today at a Waratahs press conference, saying he wanted to be there to show Australian rugby has a united front.
“You wouldn’t be able to,” Cheika said when asked if he’d pick Folau again.
“Going to the World Cup – I’ve been lucky enough to go to one where we were so together in that tournament, which Izzy was a big part of, we went into that tournament sixth or seventh and we came out having made the final and a lot of it came through the momentum of the team’s togetherness.”
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Matty McLean says Folau has to face repercussions like anyone else but Jack Tame wonders if he did it on purpose.
Cheika said Folau’s latest actions go against the togetherness and the culture he’s trying to create which is why he won’t select him.
“We had a discussion after last time and made it pretty clear about his right to believe and our support in that so he could be part of the team.
“But going out in that disrespectful manner publicly is not what our team’s about – when you play in the gold jersey, we represent everyone in Australia. Everyone.”
Cheika revealed he’s attempted to contact Folau “a few times” with phone calls and even left messages, but hasn’t been able to speak to the fullback yet to attempt to understand why he made the post knowing there would be consequences.
Folau made headlines when he posted a controversial post on his Instagram account last week stating “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters” have hell awaiting them unless they repent.
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Source: 1 NEWS
In response, Rugby Australia have stated they intend to terminate his contract – a stance they stand by even after meeting with Folau on Friday.
Folau is preparing to fight against that situation at a code of conduct hearing but revealed to the Sydney Morning Herald last night he’s prepared to stop playing for his beliefs.
“First and foremost, I live for God now. Whatever He wants me to do, I believe His plans for me are better than whatever I can think. If that’s not to continue on playing, so be it,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday, in his first interview since posting the Instagram comments.
“In saying that, obviously I love playing footy and if it goes down that path I’ll definitely miss it. But my faith in Jesus Christ is what comes first.”