April 24, 2018
Sports

Israel Folau breaks silence, says he would walk away from Australian rugby, criticises Raelene Castle

“There have been things written about me angling to get a release from my Rugby Australia deal to pursue an NRL contract. That simply isnt true. There have been rugby offers from the UK, Europe and Japan that are way above anything I could earn in Australia.

"This is not about money or bargaining power or contracts. Its about what I believe in and never compromising that, because my faith is far more important to me than my career and always will be.”

Folau said he then went home and turned on the television, only to be “really disappointed” with Castles comments during a press conference afterwards in which she said: "Israel acknowledged that maybe he could have put a positive spin on that same message and done it in a less disrespectful way".

“I felt Raelene misrepresented my position and my comments," Folau said. "And did so to appease other people, which is an issue I need to discuss with her and others at Rugby Australia.

“When I spoke to Raelene about walking away, it was to help the game, not harm it, in the event we couldnt come to an understanding.

“I used to believe I was defined by my actions on the footy field, but I see now thats not true.

“During the meeting I told them it was never my intention to hurt anyone with the Instagram comment, but that I could never shy away from who I am, or what I believe. They explained their position and talked about external pressure from the media, sponsors and different parts of the community, which I understand."

Folau explained why he posted the comment but reinforced his views that homosexuals are sinners.

“In the comments section of that post, I was asked a question by somebody about what Gods plan is for gay people," Folau said. "My response to the question is what I believe Gods plan is for all sinners, according to my understanding of my Bible teachings, specifically 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10:

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor the drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

"I do not know the person who asked the question, but that didnt matter. I believed he was looking for guidance and I answered him honestly and from the heart. I know a lot of people will find that difficult to understand, but I believe the Bible is the truth and sometimes the truth can be difficult to hear.

"I think of it this way: you see someone who is about to walk into a hole and have the chance to save him. He might be determined to maintain his course and doesnt want to hear what you have to say. But if you dont tell him the truth, as unpopular as it might be, he is going to fall into that hole. What do you do?

"I fronted the cover of the Star Observer magazine to show my support for the Bingham Cup, which is an international gay rugby competition for both men and women. I believe in inclusion. In my heart, I know I do not have any phobia towards anyone.

"With everything that has been said and written, many people over the past six months have told me they think I am wrong, either to my face or via social media.

"I wont to go into the specifics – some of it has been pretty heavy, and from people close to me – but they let it be known that their views differed from mine. I dont have any issue with this.

"Every individual in this world is different and we have all experienced things that have shaped us in unique ways.

"I dont expect everyone to believe what I believe. That goes for teammates, friends and even family members, some of whom are gay.

"I dont pretend to have all the answers in life. It can be difficult making the right decisions."

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Tom Decent

Tom Decent is a journalist with Fairfax Media.

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