Karl goes nuclear on Israel Folau, NRL

 

Karl Stefanovic is "appalled" the NRL would even consider allowing Israel Folau back into the competition after it emerged on Tuesday St George was making a move to lure the 31-year-old back to rugby league Down Under.

Dragons CEO Ryan Webb confirmed they are chasing Folau as the Sydney Morning Herald reported the club had formally applied to the NRL to sign the dual-code international on a two-year deal.

Watch Live & On-Demand coverage of NRL pre-season trial matches on Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial now & start streaming instantly >

Folau hasn't played in the NRL since leaving the Broncos in 2010 and in 2019 had his contract with Rugby Australia torn up for making homophobic comments on social media, bringing an end to his illustrious Wallabies career.

Folau received a financial settlement after taking legal action against RA as many pundits criticised the governing body for not making Folau sign something agreeing not to post his homophobic views on social media.

According to the Herald, Folau has told Dragons bosses he would be willing to sign a social media clause limiting his ability to express his religious beliefs online, if that's what it took to make a $1 million deal happen and facilitate a return to the NRL.

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said the governing body would go through the process of reviewing and considering Folau's application should it land on his desk but Stefanovic said there's no way the league can allow someone who believes "hell awaits" gay people to play - social media gag order or not.

"I think it's way out of line, given what he said and the hurt he caused," Stefanovic said on Today. "To just somehow then say, 'You know what, it's OK because he doesn't have a platform for his beliefs'.

"He has never apologised for his beliefs. He still believes in that. He still is a homophobe.

"The NRL needs to take a stand on this stuff and they need to take it now.

"He is not changing his behaviour. He's not changing his views, but let's let him play because he can't go on social media? That's an absolute cop out."

Stefanovic said it doesn't matter how talented Folau is, rugby league should still not tolerate anyone with his views.

"You're saying it's OK. You still believe this stuff. It's not good enough now. It's just not good enough," he said.

"For the NRL, you have to take a stand here. I know that you want people in the code that are great players and that draw crowds, but this is the wrong message to send to a generation of people who have been so hurt and feel so abused by him.

"He shouldn't be given a chance unless he's absolutely sorry for what he has said and the fact is he's not sorry, so don't give him a chance.

"The code needs to take a stand and reflect the attitudes that they don't accept and they need to take it now."

Stefanovic's Today co-host Allison Langdon also fired up, saying Folau "still holds these beliefs" and even by limiting his use of social media, the NRL would still be giving him a platform to spread his dangerous views by registering a contract.

"When you think about how many young people he hurt when he made those comments, and if you're a young, rising rugby league star or footy star or any young person - to hear your idol say those things that you're not normal, that you're not welcome, we can't underestimate the damage (that causes)," she said.

RELATED: Absolute uproar at Israel Folau report

 

Folau debuted for the Melbourne Storm as a teenager in 2007 before moving north to play two seasons with the Broncos between 2009-2010. The explosive back played five Origins for Queensland and eight Tests for Australia before dropping a bombshell and quitting to play AFL.

A short stint at GWS was followed by a 73-Test run with the Wallabies before his acrimonious break-up with the 15-man code Down Under.

Unable to play rugby in Australia, Folau headed to France to play rugby league for the Catalans Dragons, who compete in the UK Super League. He signed a one-year extension last July to keep him at the club for the 2021 season but with COVID-19 causing havoc around the world, Folau returned to Australia during the summer after his wife Maria gave birth to their first child.

Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys has said previously Folau's views on homosexuality are not welcome in the NRL. In October 2019, V'landys poured cold water over the idea of Folau ever returning.

"The game is inclusive. Israel's comments are not inclusive," V'landys said then.

"When I was a kid and kids used to get bashed up because they were different, I used to go and defend them. And a lot of them, it's because their role models or their peers made them that way.

"I have no tolerance for people that put other people's lives (at risk) or (who commit) violence. It's a big statement to make. With due respect to Israel, what he says, young kids listen to. He is a role model. They act on it. And when you're a kid at school and you get bashed up because you're different, I don't think that's a good thing."

 

Originally published as Karl goes nuclear on Israel Folau, NRL



Monday morning bingo a hit at Gympie Bowls Club

Premium Content Monday morning bingo a hit at Gympie Bowls Club

Bowls notes from Gympie Bowls Club at Southside

VIDEO: Fire destroys family home near Tin Can Bay

Premium Content VIDEO: Fire destroys family home near Tin Can Bay

Eight fire fighting crews brought the blaze under control but it was too late to...

Replays: Sunshine Coast Senior Schools Football Finals

Premium Content Replays: Sunshine Coast Senior Schools Football Finals

Sunshine Coast students look to cap their football season on a high