The divisive Israel Folau threatens to split the Wallabies squad with a number of players considering a boycott if the star fullback wins his case to begin playing again, according to respected rugby journalist Wayne Smith of The Australian.
Should Folau be selected to wear green and gold in the future, Smith writes a number of players will be unhappy about it as “he has broken a prime directive: he had placed himself before the team.”
A number of high-profile Wallabies stars have spoken out against the content within Folau’s social-media posts, with halfback Will Genia recently stating many of his current teammates disagree with his beliefs.
“There are blokes at the Wallabies and the Waratahs that have certain beliefs that very much conflict with what he has said and done,” Genia said recently.
“I certainly think it makes it a bit uncomfortable for people within those team environments to relate to him and, moving forward, even to play with him.”
When asked whether he would be comfortable taking the field with Israel Folau after thoughtful consideration Wallabies captain Michael Hooper explained to media that it would be ‘difficult’.
“Like was said before, in this current state and being here and talking about this as a rugby player, it makes it hard, it makes it difficult.”
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said that a “line had been crossed” and that “you wouldn’t be able to” pick him going forward if he was available.
“As it stands right now, considering what I just said, you wouldn’t be able to,” Cheika said to media.
The controversy over Folau’s views has created an ‘eggshell’ environment where Reds captain Samu Kerevi apologised for sharing a peaceful religious message over Easter that did not contain the type of sentiment contained in Folau’s message.
The fact that Kerevi had to apologise raised the anger of Reds prop Taniela Tupou who showed his support for Kerevi by posting on Facebook: “Seriously? Might as well sack me and all the other Pacific Islands rugby players around the world because we have the same Christian beliefs.”
“I will never apologise for my faith and what I believe in, religion had nothing to do with rugby anyways.”
Folau’s hearing will be held on Saturday and he has been suspended from all activities until further notice.
Waratahs coach and captain after Sharks’ loss:
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now