The Waratahs have stood down Israel Folau. Picture: AAP
The Waratahs have stood down Israel Folau. Picture: AAP

Waratahs tell Folau he’s not welcome

ISRAEL Folau has been given his first taste of life without rugbym with the Waratahs telling the fallen superstar to stay away.

Although Rugby Australia and NSW have not terminated Folau's contract yet after his latest offensive social media rants, they've made it crystal clear it's only a matter of time.

The Waratahs confirmed Folau was already persona non grata when they said he had been stood down "from all player duties with the NSW Waratahs until further notice".

That doesn't just mean he can't play Super Rugby anymore, it also means he's banned from joining his teammates in training and isn't welcome at team functions, even though he has vowed to fight to save his career.

The Waratahs are still on a break but will reconvene at their suburban training headquarters on Monday, when the coaching staff will speak to the players behind closed doors to address the fallout before getting back to work.

This was supposed to be a quiet, relaxing week off for the Waratahs, until Folau pulled out his phone and all hell broke loose.

With the team scheduled for a bye, the players and coaches had been told to rest their aching bodies and spend time with their families.

Some have been preparing to play Shute Shield, while others have been surfing, playing golf and even going out bush to help with chores on the farm, while halfback Nick Phipps and his wife Ebony are anxiously awaiting the birth of their first child.

But the moment Folau went rogue, no one was chilling out anymore.

Senior management have been locked in high-level talks and head coach Daryl Gibson and his assistants have been briefing senior players in the leadership group while everyone went underground, with no one talking publicly or on social media.

Israel Folau might not be seen in a Waratahs jersey again. Picture: AAP
Israel Folau might not be seen in a Waratahs jersey again. Picture: AAP

When they do resume training, Folau won't be there, but everyone else will, left to answer the questions he still hasn't addressed.

No one wants to dwell on it long, however,  because there's a crunch match against the Melbourne Rebels next weekend and life will go on without Folau.

Favourites to win the Australian conference at the start of the season, the Tahs have stumbled out of the gates so need to finish faster than Winx to get their season back on track after losing their past two games.

The immediate problem facing the Waratahs is how to replace Folau, who became the tournament's all-time leading try-scorer in his last outing, but it's not as hard as it seems and his absence may actually help with team selection.

All season, they've been chopping and changing the starting line-up because they've had too many Wallabies who all have to be rested under the rotation policy so haven't been able to build combinations.

But with Folau no longer available, the most likely scenario is Kurtley Beale will slot into fullback, allowing Karmichael Hunt and Adam Ashley-Cooper to play in the centres.

News Corp Australia


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