Folau fallout: Wallabies split on the cards?
REACTION: In the wake of Israel Folau’s sacking many Wallabies stars have openly display their allegiance to the fullback.
Sekope Kepu and Tolu Latu were the lastest pair who posted farewell messages for him on social media hours after the decision
“Will miss going to battle with you my Toko. ‘Ofa atu #TT,” he wrote.
‘Ofa atu translates to “Best wishes” or “Love to you” in English.
Folau commented his appreciation of Kepu’s post, while a number of fellow Waratahs “liked” and commented on the picture voicing their support of the sentiment.
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Last month, Queensland prop Taniela Tupou, who like Folau is of Tongan origin, was one of the few Wallabies of Polynesian heritage to offer a strong opinion on the situation.
“Seriously … might as well sack me and all the other Pacific Islands rugby players around the world because we have the same Christian beliefs,” Tupou posted on Facebook last month.
“I will never apologise for my faith and what I believe in, religion has got nothing to do with rugby anyways?”
Folau’s religious beliefs are understood to be shared by several other professional players in Australia, particularly his fellow Polynesians.
Players from that group filled nine out of 23 positions in the Wallabies squad for their most recent Test against England last November.
Nonetheless, Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle is confident the decision to terminate Israel Folau’s contract won’t alienate some of his former teammates and undermine the Wallabies’ World Cup campaign.
And it seems like Castle isn’t concerned that the decision would cause any disunity or split in the playing ranks.
“I’m 100 percent confident because those players understand that everyone has a right to their own views and their religious beliefs,” she said.
“As long as they continue to express them in a respectful way we will continue to support them.
“I have absolute confidence (coach) Michael Cheika is going to build a Wallaby team that will be incredibly competitive in the Rugby World Cup.”
Castle said she has kept in touch with Australia’s professional players via email as the saga unfolded.
“I’ve communicated directly to make it clear Rugby Australia fully supports their right to their own beliefs and nothing that has happened changes that,” she said.
‘But when we’re talking about inclusiveness in our game we’re talking about respecting differences as well
“When we say rugby is a game for all, we mean it.
“People need to feel safe and welcomed in our game, regardless of their gender, race, background religion or sexuality.”
Dual World Cup winner Tim Horan suggested it might take a while for some players to come to terms with the decision.
“I think it’ll take some time, especially among the senior playing group who are very close to Israel and especially the Pacific Islanders who are very close and believe in their faith, but don’t preach it,” Horan said on Fox Sports.
Source: Rugbycomau & AAP