Israel Folau’s impending banishment from the Waratahs is set to hand his younger brother, John, a chance to prove his worth.
24-year-old wing John is still yet to make his Super Rugby debut since switching codes from the Parramatta Eels in the NRL, despite having been named on the bench during the Waratahs’ 29-31 loss to the Sunwolves in Newcastle last month.
John can now expect to make his debut sooner rather than later as Israel has been stood down by Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Rugby Union following comments made on social media platforms where he condemned gay people to hell, with his contract expected to be terminated.
Although John is also being deeply religious like his brother, Waratahs halfback Nick Phipps told Fox Sports the sticky sibling situation isn’t a problem for the New South Wales club as they prepare for an important Australian derby against the Rebels in Sydney on Saturday.
“You can go around and have a laugh with him (John), have a joke, just let him know it’s not awkward, it’s no reflection on him,” Phipps said.
“He’s also a very passionate Christian man and we fully respect that, but for him we just want him to feel comfortable in his place at work.”
While maintaining that the saga has not impacted John, Phipps did concede that the team as whole has been affected by the off-field drama.
“It’s obviously a distraction, it’s been going on for nearly two weeks now,” the Wallabies halfback said on Tuesday.
“The fact that there was such a such a huge press conference about it yesterday… it was not too far from our vision every day.”
The Waratahs and Rebels will name their sides for their upcoming clash on Thursday.
Watch – Nick Phipps speaks to media:
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