In the spotlight: Catalans Dragons' Israel Folau takes part in training Photo: AFP/File
rugby league

Folau deserves 'second chance not life sentence'


Israel Folau deserves a second chance and not "a life sentence" over his controversial views on homosexuality as the Australian star prepares to make his Super League bow this weekend.

Folau was Thursday included in the Catalans Dragons' 21-man match-day squad for their home match with Castleford on Saturday.

Folau, a dual code international, was fired last May by Rugby Australia over a social media post warning "hell awaits" gay people and others he considers sinners.

The 30-year-old, who scored 37 tries in 73 test appearances for the Wallabies, has been training with the French rugby league side for two weeks and was expected to make his Dragons debut at Wakefield last Sunday.

But he was left out of the line-up amid the fall out over the French club's decision to sign him.

"He did deserve a second chance," Dragons coach Steve McNamara told the BBC on Thursday. "I spoke to him in depth for a long period of time over a number of occasions. I felt it was right and he deserved the opportunity, it shouldn't be a life sentence what he was given."

McNamara added: "We researched Izzy as a person completely, as a coach my decision was based around his rugby league ability, his ability to add positivity to the dressing room and to really increase our opportunities of winning. It was based around that and his being a good personality."

Castleford coach Daryl Powell, meanwhile, warned that Folau will need time to readjust to rugby league, the code where he started his career before moving to union.

"I think he will play but he hasn't played rugby league for 10 years. You want to see if he's still any good at it," Powell told the Yorkshire Post newspaper. "He's a big athletic player so similar to (New Zealand dual code star) Sonny Bill Williams if not the same position.

"It is a bit of the unknown so we have had a look at some footage of him. It's really hard so we've just got to try and focus on ourselves."

© 2020 AFP

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The only thing Israel Folau and I have in common is that neither of us are gay. At least I assume he's not gay.

However to suggest that Folau should a) have lost his job for what he said in the first place and b) that he should continue to be punished for what he said by never being allowed to work again, is showing a real failure of commitment to and understanding of real free speech. If Folau had suggested that not only were gays not going to get into his non-existent heaven, but that the god-fearing on Earth should help their god to sort the gays out in the meantime, then that would be different. But he didn't.

Folau's "church" consists of about 30 people and is ruled by his Dad. Star rugby player or not, his tweeted opinions should matter to genuinely committed free-speechers, even gay ones, not one jot. If you just don't like hearing opinions that you find offensive, that's one thing. If you want to ban those opinions from being expressed just because you don't like them, then that's different. That puts you in the same league as Folau, just playing on a different team. Pun intended.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

BigYen...I think you assume too much. Quite a few people that are as “anti gay” as him are often in denial. That and the fact that he likes to spend much of his free time up close and personal with sweaty, muscular men in shorts. Methinks he doth protest too much!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Quite a few people that are as “anti gay” as him are often in denial.

They are indeed - that's why I said "I assume". My suspicion though is that he's just so brainwashed by the teachings of his "church" that he really believes what he says.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Not sure I care what his views on sexuality and adultery and drunkenness and fornication are.  He is a talented rugby player and should be judged as such.  Feel the same way about actors and other celebs.  Their views on social issues are not really of concern to me.  The notion of them being :role models" is, in my view, vastly overplayed by the media.

4 ( +4 / -0 )


-4 ( +0 / -4 )

A 'second chance'? For what?

All he did was voice his religious opinion and the PC police go berserk persecuting him. Justly he won his fight with Rugby Australia. The PC police are doing the same to Margaret Court. So much for 'diversity and inclusion'. Hypocrites. The people are getting sick of PC culture and those who push it.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

his controversial views on homosexuality

His views, or God's views, or the bible's views.

"Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians, Chapter 6)

I'd like to think that those who oppose his views are also critical of the bible.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

All he did was voice his religious opinion and the PC police go berserk persecuting him.

He voiced an opinion. I’m always suspicious of expressions like ‘religious opinion’ as they are often used to cloak over simple bigotry. Many Christians don’t share his bigotry.

He’s allowed an opinion and to express it, but unless he’s a total idiot, he must have been aware that you’ll pay a price for this kind of opinion in a civilised country.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The people are getting sick of PC culture and those who push it.

Who are ‘the people’?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

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