Former NRL star and ex-New South Wales State of Origin head coach Laurie Daley has declared he would not recruit controversial cross-code star Israel Folau to his NRL club.
The 50-year-old, who last coached at first-class level in 2017, branded the sacked Wallabies fullback as divisive, disruptive and a sponsor repellent in the wake of reports that a number of NRL clubs, including his former sides the Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos, are interested in in acquiring the eight-test Kangaroo.
Additionally, the age of 30 and having not played the 13-man code since 2010, Daley told the Big Sports Breakfast that signing Folau is not worth the trouble.
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“I’m not paying him anything. I don’t bring him to my club,” Daley said, insisting that he would not sign Folau even at a cut price of AU$500,000.
“No, no, too much baggage. You divide your club, you divide your sponsors, you divide your members and you know what? You would probably even … you wouldn’t divide the playing group, but you would have some players that would have some concerns with him coming in and fitting in to your culture.”
Queried on whether players and sponsors would simply fall into line following a Folau signing, Daley described the situation as a unique case.
The ex-league, union and AFL star was fired by Rugby Australia in April for repeated homophobic comments made on social media, and eventually reached a severance settlement worth a reported AU$2.5 million.
Damian McKenzie's return from injury in 2020 will add plenty of firepower to an already scorching @ChiefsRugby backline. Where does the young playmaker fit in, asks @TomVinicombe.
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RA faced extreme pressure from major sponsors such as Qantas prior to terminating Foalu’s contract, with the governing body stating that the former Waratahs utility back went against the union’s stances on inclusivity.
The NRL has so far echoed those sentiments to date.
“You’re talking something completely different with Israel. You’re not talking money or whatever, that falls into insignificance compared to what we’re talking about here with Israel,” Daley told the Big Sports Breakfast.
“You just look at sponsors and you look at members, then your playing group — you’d have one or two (against Folau). I’m not saying you’d have half, I’m not saying you’d have three quarters, but you’d definitely have a couple of players that would have major concerns.
“I reckon if you’ve got a strong playing group and a strong leadership group, they would have massive concerns.
“Why would you want to bring all this disruption to your club when you don’t need it?
“I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t. Why would I want to bring that to my club for two years?
“If you’re in any business, if your sponsors are threatening to pull out, you’ve got to be careful on signing a player. If sponsors were pulling out because they didn’t like what you stood for and what you said, of course you’d be (wary).”
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