Israel Folau has the backing of his community.
Israel Folau has the backing of his community.

‘Doesn’t care’: Truth about Folau fight

Family and friends of Israel Folau have defended the Wallabies star as his fight to save his rugby career continues, saying the only thing that matters to him is how he will be viewed by God and proclaiming his religious views come from a place of love, not hate.

Folau's code of conduct hearing to determine whether Rugby Australia (RA) can tear up his $4 million contract because of his homophobic social media post will resume on Tuesday, extending into a third day after it occupied the weekend.

Folau was at RA headquarters on Sunday while his congregation prayed for him at their regular weekend service at the Truth of Jesus Christ church in Sydney.

Here, Folau's loved ones stood up for the 30-year-old and defended his right to preach the word of God.

Friend Evelyn Hema told invited media, including the major TV networks, the repercussions of his standoff with rugby's governing body are less important to him than how he will be treated in the afterlife.

"He doesn't care how he'll be persecuted in this world, where it's temporary," she said. "But it's in the afterlife when we all die.

"Everything that he does is out of love. Because he's in the public eye, it's gone out there to the world and they will see it as hate speech."

An emotional Evelyn, who fought back tears, also said: "I'm proud of the servant that he is, being faithful to the God that we serve.

"Whatever the outcome is, whether it's good or bad, we will still glorify the God that we serve.

"We are proud of the servant that he is and the God that is within him that is able to profess and stand strong and firm and steadfast in the faith that he has for our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ."

 

 

Folau’s friend Evelyn is supporting the rugby star.
Folau’s friend Evelyn is supporting the rugby star.

Folau's cousin Josiah said the Wallabies star's stance comes from a place of love, and he does not hate those groups of people mentioned in his social media post.

"He's a kind person, he's a loving person," Josiah said, per 10daily.com. "He didn't post the post or say what he said out of malice, it's words that come straight from the bible.

"The important thing for us is not so much the outcome but that the glory of God is revealed through this situation and that his truth is preached to the whole world.

"He posted it out of love and when I say out of love, he means the people that the post was about, so thieves, adulterers, liars, all of them, homosexuals as well … in the words of God it says if they continue in their sinful ways without having repented and being baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, they will end up in a place separated from God for eternity.

"So if you truly love someone, just as Israel loves everyone, he would want to warn people."

Folau's dad Eni, a pastor, said he doesn't know exactly what was in his son's contract but doesn't believe he breached any rules. He also said Folau shouldn't be punished because his words in the Instagram post saying "hell awaits" gays were from the bible rather than of his own making.

"Israel did not do any wrong at all. All the words he posted up do not come from him, it comes from the bible," Mr Folau said.

"I talked to him and he said whatever God's decision to his life, he will accept."

Folau's defence counsel and RA's legal team will return on Tuesday after more than 15 hours of legal arguments weren't enough for the three-person independent panel to start considering a decision.

On Sunday RA chief executive Raelene Castle was asked to provide verbal evidence for the second day running, with NSW Waratahs boss Andrew Hore also called as a witness.

The superstar fullback, who reportedly rejected a $1 million offer to walk away from Australian rugby last week, joined Castle and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika in providing evidence on Saturday.

Folau's solicitor Ramy Quatami and barrister Adam Casselden have argued that Folau's Instagram post claiming hell awaits homosexuals and other sinners unless they repent and turn to Jesus was merely a Bible passage and not his direct words.

They also put foot forward the fact that RA didn't include a specific social media clause when the John Eales Medallist signed a new contract in February. But after being formally warned last year when he posted similar passages claiming gays were destined for hell, RA's legal unit believes the 30-year-old has breached both the player code of conduct and social media policies.

Both Folau and RA will have until 72 hours after any decision is handed down to appeal.

Sunday's developments came after former rugby league international Ian Roberts, that code's first player to come out, aired his grave concerns about how Folau's posts could impact on young homosexuals.

"These types of remarks can and do push people over the edge. There can't be any tolerance of bigotry," Roberts told Channel 9's Sports Sunday program.

"I do feel sorry for Israel but there are consequences to your actions. "I don't say this lightly and what I'm about to say, the language I use, is hard and it's for a point, it's to get that message across - there are literally kids in the suburbs killing themselves.

"I say that with the greatest sense of respect and I'm not implying that Israel is responsible solely for that - please don't take it that way - but it's these types of comments and these types of off-the-cuff remarks when you have young people and vulnerable people who are dealing with their sexuality, confused, not knowing how to deal with it."

With AAP