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Folau 'enjoyed' off-field drama

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Israel Folau says he 'enjoyed' dealing with anti-gay backlash in roller-coaster year

Wallabies fullback Israel Folau, who is expected to announce a long-term commitment to Rugby Australia soon, has said he “enjoyed” the off-field drama that caused a firestorm over anti-gay social media comments.

Ahead of Tokyo’s test against the All Blacks, Folau spoke of dealing with the pressure and how he came close to walking away from the game.

“It’s a bit of a roller-coaster year, for me, more so off the field with what’s been happening but, to be quite honest, it might sound a bit crazy, but I kind of really enjoyed what was happening off the field,” he said.

“Not that it happened on purpose, but my identity is based around my faith in God.

“And I truly believe that from deep down inside, what was happening off the field, even though it was challenging and it was hard, it was actually moulding me into the person [I am] … and taught me a lot of things that I needed to learn, and I’m still learning now.

The deeply religious fullback has accepted those who disagree with his own views, learning to love them.

“I totally understand everyone else’s view,” he said.

“They are obviously different to mine and I respect that. It doesn’t change how I look at that person.

“Obviously a lot of people will say negative things about what was happening, but it taught me to actually love and forgive them for obviously not agreeing and that’s something that I’ve learnt to take on.”

Following the backlash, which prompted wrath from fans, players and sponsors alike, Folau came close to walking away as his thoughts went back and forth.

“At some stage, I didn’t think I was going to be in the game, but those thoughts always chop and change and in the end, you have that peace and comfort inside that brought me to a stage where I feel comfortable in wanting to move forward.”

“I base everything around my faith and belief in God – I tend to go wherever he wants me to go,” he said.

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Israel Folau says he 'enjoyed' dealing with anti-gay backlash in roller-coaster year