Israel Folau fighting to save his career after homophobic comment
Wallabies star Israel Folau is fighting to save his career as he met with Australian rugby chiefs over a homophobia row that left him facing the sack just months before the World Cup.
The religious 30-year-old held talks with Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle, a day after she said she intends to fire him- barring mitigating circumstances- for posting on Instagram that "Hell awaits" homosexuals.
But the meeting with the New South Wales Waratahs fullback, who was embroiled in a similar controversy last year, did nothing to alter the governing body's stance.
“Our joint position regarding Israel Folau is unchanged,” Rugby Australia and the NSW Rugby Union said, adding that the two bodies will now “consider the next steps”.
The Sydney Daily Telegraph said Folau was told his contract would be terminated but he is entitled to go through a code of conduct hearing first, a route he will take in a bid to keep playing.
A relaxed-looking Folau and his wife Maria were spotted at a Sydney cafe with two other men, reportedly from the Rugby Union Players Association, but he refused to answer questions when approached by media.
Folau, who became Super Rugby's record try-scorer last week, is a dual international who began his career in rugby league, and there was speculation the sport could offer him a lifeline if he is kicked out of rugby union.
But Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter Beattie said he had failed the sport's character test and would not get a contract.
“Israel Folau fails the NRL's inclusiveness culture, which is a policy strongly supported by the ARLC,” Beattie told reporters.
“The ARLC therefore would not support his registration to play National Rugby League.” Beattie acted swiftly as rugby league works to rebuild its own reputation after the new season was overshadowed by a string of sex and alcohol scandals.
Folau, who has played 73 Tests and was seen as crucial for the Wallabies at this year's World Cup in Japan, posted on Wednesday that “Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators - Hell awaits you.”