Former Wallabies loose forward David Pocock has weighed in on the latest development in the Israel Folau saga.
The ex-Wallabies fullback is awaiting a legal fight with Rugby Australia over what he believes to be a wrongful termination of his multi-million dollar contract as a result of an Instagram post in April where he said “hell awaits” for gay people.
Earlier this week, Folau increased his compensation demands from $10 million to $14 million, claiming that he will now miss out on extra earnings that come with being captain of the Australian national side.
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Pocock, who has previously condemned Folau for his homophobic comments, told Fox Sports News that he didn’t understand why Folau believes that he would have ousted incumbent Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper.
“I think Michael Hooper has been doing a great job and he’s contracted to the next World Cup so I’m not sure where Izzy’s getting that from,” he said on Friday.
Pocock’s comments come after former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons brandished Folau’s captaincy claims as “absurd”, especially given that he was never named vice-captain.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 30, 2019
“It just gets ever more absurd,” FitzSimons told TVNZ. “From a distance, I just thought, ‘What? Captain?’ … but Michael Cheika, who was the Wallabies coach of course, he moved through seven vice-captains.
“Now, if Michael Cheika had seven vice-captains and Israel Folau wasn’t one of them, I think by definition he was a very unlikely man to be captain.
“The last time Australian rugby had a fullback as captain was in 1980. It was Paul McLean, it was one Test, and after that the theory in Australian rugby was that fullback was too far from the main game to be the captain, so the tradition in Australian rugby is we don’t have a fullback as a captain.
“I find the claim absolutely absurd.”
Pocock went on to criticise Folau for using his profile to drag the sport of rugby through the mud by discriminating against gay people.
“My view has been that sport is at its best when it’s challenging society to be more inclusive,” Pocock said.
“I think we can play such an important role in trying to instil values of fairness and inclusivity into kids coming through.
“I found it incredibly disappointing the way he’s used his platform around this.”
The Daily Telegraph reported on Friday that two unnamed former Wallabies who have signed affidavits supporting Folau’s legal case are no longer employees of RA.
It is understood that their statements will suggest that Folau’s reintroduction into the national side following his anti-gay comments would not have a negative impact on team cohesion.
Losing a marquee player has got to hurt a club but Bordeaux sound relieved that in-demand Fijian Semi Radradra made up his mind early about his futurehttps://t.co/Aw7XKFD964
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 29, 2019
Folau claims that his contract termination will cost him $4.2 million between 2019 and 2022, as well as $300,000 in match payments between 2019 and 2021, and an additional $150,000 in match payments for 2022.
Furthermore, the 30-year-old believes he would have earned up to $1.5 million per season for one or two years with Rugby Australia and a Super Rugby club following 2022.
He also believes that he would have made up to $1.5 million per year over a two-to-three year period had he chosen to play overseas after his international career ended.
Estimates established over lost dollars from sponsors, World Cup appearances and captaincy fees are also included to justify the enhanced $14 million demand by the triple-code star.
The claim also includes estimates of between $450,000 and $1.25 million per year lost in “post-playing career monetary benefits” over a span of 15 to 25 years.
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