Shock Folau revelation as D-Day looms
AFTER a month of scandal over his controversial social media posts, Israel Folau has little time left to appeal his contract termination.
Folau was found guilty of a high-level breach by a three-person panel over his April 9 social media posts with his contract terminated on Friday.
He then had 72 hours to launch an appeal to trigger a second code of conduct hearing over the matter, which expires at 3pm Monday, although it has also been suggested he may bypass the appeal and take his case to the Supreme Court.
Folau seemed set to fight the sacking before taking the weekend to work out his next step.
"I am deeply saddened by today's decision to terminate my employment and I am considering my options," he said on Friday after the decision was handed down.
"As Australians, we are born with certain rights, including the right to freedom of religion and the right to freedom of expression. The Christian faith has always been a part of my life and I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God's word. Upholding my religious beliefs should not prevent my ability to work or play for my club and country."
On Saturday it was reported the ATO would be monitoring donations to Folau's legal team if the fallen star's backers tried to funnel donations through his church The Truth Of Jesus Christ Church in Kenthurst in order to get a tax deduction.
But Sydney Morning Herald chief sports writer Andrew Webster said Wallabies staff believed Folau was looking for a way out of his career as a professional sportsperson.
"People within the Wallabies set-up are certain that a lot of this is driven by the fact that he's just had enough," Webster said.
"He's been playing professional sport (from) the age of 17, when he debuted for the Melbourne Storm.
"He's played three different codes, and they seem to think that the way that he has acted and the way that he was just such a renegade with this last social media post after what happened exactly a year ago, suggests to them in the Wallabies set-up that he just doesn't want to play professional sport any more. It's also his beliefs; he's dug in for that."
Webster took aim at Folau last month with a biting criticism. He finished by waving farewell to Folau.
"Can I just say this though: See ya, Israel. See ya," Webster said. "I'm just so glad that this issue (is over). I know it's probably going to kick on in the courts, but it's been such a ridiculous debate.
"The way Israel Folau has been positioned as a victim, that he's been persecuted, as some modern-day Muhammad Ali in the last 10 days is just ridiculous. He's not being vilified for his Christian beliefs.
"He's being vilified for vilifying others. And to be honest, that's it. That's the debate and that's where it ends. It's so good that Rugby Australia and that disciplinary committee could see that."
On the other side of the issue, World Cup-winning former Wallabies coach Bob Dwyer has blasted Rugby Australia, calling the issue, "incredibly badly handled by the ARU".
He joins the chorus of supporters including Alan Jones and Anthony Mundine who have come to Folau's defence since Friday.
"If it was me, I'd be saying I can't disagree with anything you've said, Izzy, because you've quoted the Bible, and what I can say is we think you're a very good person," Dwyer said to. "We think for 95 per cent of your behaviour and words you're an absolute credit to the game and our society.
"However you can't expect to be an example for change in our society if you want to confront and affront people. As soon as you try to do that, you'll have the opposite reaction. That's not good enough in a team game.
"But I think he's a massive example for good in our society. At a time in sports when we are seeing some of the worst behaviours in sport, we've got this guy who's the exact opposite. I think it would be a sad, sad day if he's lost to Australian sport."
Despite criticising his actions as selfish, Wallabies halfback Will Genia admitted he was sad about Folau's sacking, even sending a text message to check on his welfare after the decision was handed down.
"I'm sad for the game and sorry for him, and I just really hope he's OK," Genia said. "At the end of the day, he's got feelings, he's got emotions, he's got a family. And from all the time I've spent with him, he loves playing the game, and to have that taken away from him I'm sure he would be really upset.
"With everything that's happened, he's lost out on the opportunity to do what he loves. And he's still young and he's an unbelievable player, and he's not going to be able to play the game anymore and that's really sad."
Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle admitted there were no winners out of the Folau situation.
Speaking in a wide-ranging interview on Rugby.com, Castle said it had been a difficult time for everyone in the Rugby Australia community but that the organisation had to take a stand with young children being affected by the fallout.
"Parents of young children have contacted us saying 'I've got a 15-year-old who really looks up to Israel and is struggling with his sexuality'," Castle said.
"Those things are really difficult to hear and make it very real. It's not just the rugby community at a distance. It's stories that you're dealing with first-hand.
"So it was causing harm, it was against our values and we believed it was a direct breach of contract and we had to seek termination."