SYDNEY: Australian rugby officials have said their intention to terminate Israel Folau’s contract is “unchanged” after a meeting with the full-back.
Folau, 30, is to be sacked after a social media post in which he said “hell awaits” gay people. The Waratahs player, who has 37 tries in 73 games for Australia, was expected to play at this year’s World Cup.
Rugby Australia and New South Wales Rugby Union met Folau on Friday, after previously being unable to contact him. The governing bodies, who are Folau’s employers, said they would not comment on what was said at the private meeting in Sydney.
But in a statement, they said: “Our joint position regarding Israel Folau is unchanged.”
A representative from Australia’s Rugby Union Players’ Association attended the meeting with Folau and said the player “signalled his intention to continue to honour his contact”.
Folau, who signed a four-year deal with the Waratahs in March and had a deal with Rugby Australia until 2022, escaped punishment for similar comments last year.
Australia’s National Rugby League has ruled out Folau switching codes to rugby league.
“Israel Folau fails the NRL’s inclusiveness culture, which is a policy strongly supported by the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC),” said ARLC chairman Peter Beattie.
“The ARLC therefore would not support his registration to play National Rugby League.”
Drew Mitchell, a former Australia team-mate became the latest player to criticise Folau.
“He’s put himself before the game, he’s put himself before his team-mates and I think he’s isolated himself to the point where there’s only one decision for Rugby Australia, where he has to go,” he told local media.
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said: “Israel’s comments were insensitive and it’s important that when you’re in public life, you’re just very mindful of being sensitive to other Australians and that you speak with that empathy.”