‘Rugby lost a good person and player’: Israel Folau’s teammates voice heartbreak over his sacking over contentious anti-gay social post
- Teammates have expressed their disappointment over Israel Folau’s sacking
- Folau, 30, lost his $4 million contract on Friday over religious grounds
- Many said he would be missed in the Red vs Waratahs match on Saturday
Israel Folau’s teammates have voiced their heartbreak over his sacking which saw the Wallabies player’s $4 million contract torn up over religious grounds.
Sekope Kepu, Taniela Tupou and Curtis Rona took to social media to express their sadness and said the game won’t be the same without him.
In the lead up to the game against the NSW Waratahs, Queensland Reds centre forward and Wallabies player Taniela Tupou reflected on better times.
He referred to Folau as ‘toko’ meaning brother.
Sydney Warrattah player Sekope Kepu said ‘I’ll miss going to battle with you my Toko’ ahead of Saturday’s game against the Queensland Reds
‘Good luck with your future endeavours toko! It’s definitely been an honour and a privilege to have played alongside you. Really going to miss you but I look forward to what the future has in store for you brother. Ofa atu and God Bless.’
Folau responded to the heartfelt post writing ‘Ofa atu toko!’ Meaning ‘I love you brother’.
South African legend and former Cronulla Sharks player Jacques Potgieter said Folau was one of the best people had ever played with.
Taniela Tupou said on Instagram: ‘Good luck with your future endeavours toko! It’s definitely been an honour and a privilege to have played alongside you. Really going to miss you but I look forward to what the future has in store for you brother. Ofa atu and God Bless’
Sydney Warrattah player Sekope Kepu said: ‘I’ll miss going to battle with you my Toko.’
Kepu then shared a post from Pek Cowan that said: ‘No matter how you see it, good or bad, Aus rugby lost a good person and player’.
Many were supportive and wished Folou luck on his next endeavour, while some praised him for choosing his beliefs over his success.
Samu Kerevi posted an image on Friday with his arm around Folau and said ‘Tomorrow night won’t be the same without you there mana, God’s in Control, Always’.
Kerevi also referenced Mark 8:36 which said: ‘What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?’
Sydney Warrattah player Sekope Kepu said ‘I’ll miss going to battle with you my Toko (brother)’ ahead of Saturday’s game
Curtis Rona was another player who was upset at his teammate’s sacking, writing ‘missing you brother’ on Instagram with a quote from the Bible.
‘Jesus said to his disciples, “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own.”‘ A section of the verse said.
In a press conference on Friday afternoon, Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle said Folau was a ‘great player’ but that everyone has the right to be respected regardless of sexuality, race, gender or religion.
South African legend and former Cronulla Sharks player Jacques Potgieter said Folau was one of the best people had ever played with
After Folau was sacked, former Wallabies coach Alan Jones said Rugby Australia had ‘internationally destroyed his name for quoting a passage from the Bible’.
Folau released an emotional response soon after the decision, thanking Australia for the privilege to represent the country.
‘It has been a privilege and an honour to represent Australia and my home state of New South Wales, playing the game I love,’ Folau said in a statement.
‘I am deeply saddened by today’s decision to terminate my employment and I am considering my options.’
The player will now decide if he will appeal the decision with a new panel but is believed to be looking to skip the process and take the issue to the high-court.