Wallabies and Waratahs fullback Israel Folau has reiterated his stance on homosexuality on the eve of his return to the playing field.
Folau fronted the Australian media in Sydney on Thursday ahead of the Waratahs’ clash against the Blues. The fullback has been sidelined with a hamstring injury for over a month, and will be looking to help his side score a rare win against a New Zealand side upon his return.
Folau made headlines for all the wrong reasons recently when he said on Instagram that homosexuals were destined for hell unless they repented and turned to God. He later wrote an article in the Players Voice to explain his comment in the context of his religious beliefs.
The Instagram post was widely criticised, even by several players on the local and international circuit, but no steps were taken by the Australian Rugby Union to punish the player.
On Thursday, Folau said that he had no regrets and was not about to change his stance.
‘I’ve said what I said in recent weeks. I’ll leave it there. I stand firm on what I believe in and that’s from something personal with who I am. It’s got nothing to do personally with anyone, teammates, or anyone that is involved in the game,’ Folau told reporters.
‘I’ve opened up a bit and hopefully, a lot of people can see where I come from and why I said that. That’s something I hold dearly to me and it’s not going to change. I stand firmly on that. As a rugby player, it doesn’t change me who I am as a person. I’m the same person when I go on the field.’
There is some uncertainty regarding Folau’s future. The 29-year-old has been approached by a number of overseas clubs, and may even head back to rugby league when his Wallabies contract expires at the end of 2018.
Folau wasn’t happy about the way the ARU handled the recent episode, but insists this won’t influence his decision. Meanwhile, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is looking to lock down the fullback before the 2019 World Cup.
‘In terms of contract talks, it’s something that my management deal with,’ Folau said. ‘They’re working behind the scenes to deal with that. My job as a player is to focus on the job ahead and that’s on Saturday against the Blues.
‘You can’t hold grudges, you can’t take it personally. I’ve been fine with how everything has rolled out the last month and my focus is getting back out there on the field.’