‘Completely untrue’: RA slams Folau accusation
WHEN Israel Folau comes face-to-face with Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle today, the former Wallaby expects an "admission that they were wrong", while also telling Alan Jones and Peta Credlin the devastating impact the saga has had on his wife, Maria.
The sacked Wallabies player revealed his request while speaking to Alan Jones and Peta Credlin on Sky News on Thursday evening and added that his wife Maria has struggled with being "dragged into" the crisis.
Folau will face RA boss Raelene Castle, Waratahs chief executive Andrew Hore and their legal representatives for the first time since his $5 million contract was terminated for breaching terms of the deal.
However, he will argue they had no legal grounds to sack him.
"I'm hopeful for an apology from them, and an admission that they were wrong," Folau said.
"That'd be something I'd like to get.
"I'm extremely proud to have represented my country, it's truly an honour.
"Tomorrow is the first step in terms of the legal stuff, I'm looking for an apology and if I can get that, that would be awesome."
But that is highly unlikely, with RA hitting back with a statement after Folau's appearance on the show accusing him of lying, after he'd said they offered him money to remove his post.
"Following comments made on Alan Jones television show tonight (Thursday), any suggestion that Rugby Australia offered Israel Folau money to remove a post made on April 10, 2019, is completely untrue,' RA said.
Folau has shown no interest in any settlement offers made by RA before and during his code of conduct hearing, the largest of which was close to $2 million.
With the help of the Australian Christian Lobby, Folau has sourced $2 million from members of the public who support his fight based on religious expression, and it's understood he is keen to take the matter all the way to the Federal Court in a bid to win nearly $10 million for his contract and lost future earnings.
Folau said sponsorship pressure to take action against his netballer wife Maria in recent days had been tough to digest.
"It's been extremely hard for her, she's been dragged into this situation unexpectedly, it's been very frustrating for her," Folau said.
"I'm very lucky she's a strong woman, she is the same as me, convicted by her faith and she's continuing to march on and stay strong."
Folau reiterated that his offending Instagram post that targeted homosexuals and other sinners "came from a place of love".
He told Jones and Credlin there was nothing in his contract preventing him from making the post, despite pleading guilty to a low-level breach of his contract during his code of conduct hearing.
He added that it was difficult to understand why former teammates Drew Mitchell, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps and Michael Hooper had criticised him during the ongoing saga.
"It's hard to understand, but it's something that doesn't surprise me, I've got no animosity towards anyone," Folau said.
"I let that [criticism] wash over me, I've got no hard feelings towards those guys, I've had really good times with those guys on and off the field, they are entitled to their opinions."
Castle said Folau's case is not about religious freedom, but breach of contract.
"I want to make clear that Rugby Australia has acted with complete professionalism and integrity at all times through the process by which Israel was found, by an independent three-member tribunal panel, to have made multiple, serious breaches of the Professional Players Code of Conduct," Castle said.
"The panel found the breaches constituted a high level and directed Rugby Australia to terminate Israel's contract.
"This is an employment matter and does not concern his religious beliefs or his ability to express them freely.
"If some of you follow Israel's social accounts, you will have noticed he has posted religious material freely and openly over the last few years.
"The media attention it has garnered is obviously distracting as it means that we aren't talking about, and celebrating, all the great things going on in our game."