Wallabies exile Israel Folau chose New Zealand’s Netball World Cup semi-final clash with England in Liverpool over watching his former team battle it out with the Springboks.
The two matches overlapped, although Folau will have been able to catch most of Australia’s maiden 2019 Test in the Rugby Championship opener in Johannesburg.
Israel’s wife – Maria – played out of her skin as the Silver Ferns ran out 45 – 47 over the hosts a closely fought battle, and Israel was there to witness her victory.
Israel Folau was spotted in the crowd, cheering on his wife, having landed in the UK on Wednesday.
However, the tournament hasn’t been all positive for Maria. She was targeted by online trolls who ridiculed her missing a crucial shot against Australia earlier in the tournament.
One Tweeter wrote: “Clearly it was God’s Will that Maria #Folau did not score at the Netball World Cup. Let’s start a GoFundMe campaign to support another shot.”
— Lord Sir T-Dog (@topcatxr6) July 19, 2019
Got a whole lot of enjoyment watching Maria Folau miss the goal to lose NZ the game. Jesus loves Australia ? #NetballWorldCup
— Morgan Ashlee (@Morgan_Ashlee) July 18, 2019
It was God’s will that @MariaFolau missed that goal. I would not be surprised to learn she’s now heading for hell in a handbag …
— P.Q. Whynot (@p_whynot) July 18, 2019
I bet that ball is now on the Folau household list as going to hell
— Bryce Wood (@brycewould) July 18, 2019
In June ANZ bank denied pressuring netball officials over Maria Folau’s support of her husband.
The bank, one of the big four in Australia, sponsors Netball NZ. “We value our partnership with Netball NZ and any suggestion we have tried to pressure them is absolutely incorrect,” ANZ said in a statement.
The Folau saga continues to draw media attention following his sacking by Rugby Australia.
More than 20,000 people donated over $2.2 million to help fund Folau’s legal battle via a campaign page set up by the Australian Christian Lobby.
The ACL effort replaced an earlier campaign on GoFundMe, which was taken down by the platform for breaching its service guidelines.
“I want to thank you all for your prayers and your support. You have made it possible for me to stand up for every Australian of faith,” Folau said.
“I know we are strong enough to tolerate different views without firing people from their jobs for expressing religious beliefs that not everybody agrees with.”
– RugbyPass/addition reporting AAP
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