Israel Folau has addressed his views on homosexuality following the backlash to his divisive social media comments, while revealing how his switch from rugby league to AFL left him “emotionally broken”.
The Wallabies and Waratahs back sparked controversy earlier this month by saying that God’s plan for gay people is hell.
In the wake of Folau’s comments, former Wallabies player Brendan Cannon issued severe concerns that Rugby Australia might share with their superstar. Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle later said Folau wouldn’t be punished for his views.
Welsh rugby referee Nigel Owens said Folau’s statement amounts to bullying and could have a serious impact on young people.
Former Wallabies coach and radio personality Alan Jones chimed in, saying he would offer Folau free legal representation if the rugby governing body handed down sanctions for the controversy.
In a written piece published to Players Voice yesterday, Folau responded to the furore, saying his beliefs motivated his actions to respond to the man that asked about ‘God’s plan for gay people’.
“I do not know the person who asked the question, but that didn’t matter. I believed he was looking for guidance and I answered him honestly and from the heart,” Folau said about the comment that sparked the furore.
“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 doesn’t want to hear what you have to say.
“But if you don’t tell him the truth, as unpopular as it might be, he is going to fall into that hole. What do you do? In this case, we are talking about sin as the Bible describes it, not just homosexuality, which I think has been lost on a lot of people.”
Folau also revealed that signing with the then-new Greater Western Sydney AFL side and switching from rugby league left him “emotionally broken”.
Having excelled in club and representative rugby league, it came as a major to shock to many when Folau signed a deal with the Giants in 2010, believed to be worth $6 million over four years. However, after just two seasons at the club, Folau departed for rugby union: “Often during this period I felt I was losing control of who I was and what I wanted to be. It was all ego and no humility,” Folau wrote.
“But despite living this materialistic life, I still felt empty. I would wake up on a Sunday morning and think, ‘This isn’t me’.
“And yet I would do it again the next week. And the week after that. It was a cycle of sin that was getting me nowhere.”
Folau said his ‘emptiness’ was initiated by his move to AFL with the Giants.
“With one signature, I went from the top of the NRL to the bottom of the AFL,” he wrote.
“I’ll be honest: I would be driving to training most days thinking, ‘Why am I doing this?’ It kept me up a lot of nights.
“I was doing what I thought was best for my family, but the reality of the situation - that I wasn’t very good at this new sport - made me upset. All I had wanted to do in life was play in the NRL. Now I had made a decision to leave that all behind and live a new life to appease other people.
“It left me emotionally broken.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved