Wallabies teammate slams ‘selfish’ Folau
WALLABIES vice-captain Will Genia has declared that Israel Folau's messages of "hate" are completely unwelcome in the national team and has backed Rugby Australia's attempts to tear up his $4m contract.
Speaking after Folau's decision to contest his contract termination, Genia said he knew the fallen fullback as a "lovely, humble guy."
But the star halfback was now resigned to never playing him with again as Folau and Rugby Australia prepare for a bitter, high stakes code of conduct hearing.
"I firmly believe what he did was wrong and how he messaged it, put it out there was wrong," said Genia, the 31-year-old veteran of 100 Tests.
"You can't be out there spreading hate and telling people that they're going to go to hell.
"You can have your beliefs and have faith in what you want to have faith in but you can't go around trying to tell people they should be going to hell because they are a certain way.
"For me that's completely wrong."
Folau has become increasingly religious during his time in the Wallabies but Genia said his controversial beliefs had never previously been an issue within the national team.
Coach Michael Cheika had raised the topic with the players following Folau's outburst last year but the team then moved on to focusing on rugby.
"The Israel that I know, that I see every day when I've been in Wallabies environments and camps - he's a lovely guy," Genia said.
"He's very humble, very quiet, he's very giving of his time to his teammates, to people in general.
"So for him to come out and have said and done the things that he's done, it makes it pretty uncomfortable for a lot of people."
Both Cheika and chief executive Raelene Castle spoke privately with Folau following last year's controversy and walked away with the belief that he would not publicly express his views in a disrespectful manner again.
Genia agreed that trust was now completely broken.
"If you've gone and said those things to Cheik and Raelene there's a breach of trust and I guess there's an element of selfishness about it as well," Genia said.
"You can have your beliefs but at the end of the day you're also contracted to Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs, who as your employers stand for certain things in society, who want to promote the game a certain way.
"Obviously being inclusive of gender, sexual preference, religion, background, whatever it might be.
"So when you sign up to your contract to do that, you adhere to those rules, you adhere to what's been set out before you by those two organisations and I think the fact that he's gone and said that he wouldn't do such things and say any more about what he did last year, he's obviously broken a bit of trust with Raelene and Cheik."
Genia added that Cheika would be personally hurt by Folau's actions.
"I know that Cheik is someone who respects him massively.
"He's got a lot of time, a lot of love for him and has supported him all the way through.
"I know that he'll be very, very disappointed with everything that's happened, for sure.
"I don't think I'll get the opportunity to play with him again, definitely.
"Izzy can have every right to believe in the things that he wants to and have faith in the things he wants to have faith in but he's got to realise that there are other people within that group, both at the Waratahs and Wallabies, that have certain beliefs as well, that very much conflict with what he's come out and said and done."