Israel Folau says he’s at peace as he weighs up the potentially crippling cost of his bitter legal battle with Rugby Australia (RA).
Folau is awaiting sanctioning after being found guilty of a “high level” breach of his contract and could have his four-year, $4 million deal terminated for his controversial social media posts.
Should the three-person independent panel choose the most severe level of punishment in their power, it’s expected the Wallabies superstar will appeal.
But with insiders estimating Folau would have already outlayed in excess of $100,000 on legal representation for his landmark code of conduct hearing, the three-times John Eales Medallist may at some point ask himself if it is all worth it.
It’s been suggested Folau would be spending $25,000 a week on solicitor fees, even before stepping inside a hearing room.
Should he be sacked, then lose an appeal and take the matter to court, the financial cost to Folau could be astronomical.
The best the 73-Test veteran can hope for is leniency from the panel and a suspension and/or fine, for taking to Instagram last month to proclaim hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators” unless they repent and turn to Jesus.
Regardless of the sanction, which is not expected to be handed down for several days, Folau is said to be handling the threat of termination with dignity.
“I’ve just had a note from Israel, he won’t mind if I’m sharing it with you because I said to him, ‘Hold your head up’,” former Wallabies coach Alan Jones said on 2GB radio on Wednesday.
“He said: ‘Alan, I’m at peace, mate. My head is held high’.”
Folau’s playing fate rests in the hands of John West QC, Rugby Australia representative Kate Eastman SC and the RUPA-appointed John Boultbee.
Having pursued termination since Folau sparked a firestorm with his latest posts, a year after being warned for similar offences, RA will argue they have no option but to proceed with his sacking given his vilification of the gay community – among other alleged “sinners” – and the damage he has caused the game.
Had the panel deemed Folau’s breach of RA’s players’ code of conduct anything less than “high level”, the governing body would not have had the power to boot the devout Christian out of the game.
Jones, for one, is urging Folau to “take this fight every inch of the way”.
“This will go as far as the High Court if it has to go there,” he said.
“The battle has just begun.”
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