Israel Folau’s anti-gay comments would not be tolerated if he opted to switch codes to rugby league from rugby union, Australia’s NRL (National Rugby League) chief warned on Friday.
Six NRL clubs are reportedly interested in signing Folau when his rugby union contract expires this year.
The Waratahs full-back, a devout Christian, recently sparked outrage after suggesting in a comment posted to his Instagram account that gay people would be condemned to “hell” unless they “repent” for their sins on social media.
However, NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg warned these type of comments would not be acceptable if he did decide to switch.
He told the Sydney Morning Herald: “Being inclusive can’t just be a word on a wall. You have to live and breathe it every day. Sometimes you get challenged on that.
Will Greenwood and James Gemmell discuss whether Folau's importance to the Wallabies was a factor in the full-back escaping punishment from Rugby Australia
“Inclusiveness also means everyone gets their view. But I’d be having the one-on-one conversation to talk through how that is being portrayed right now.
“I don’t agree with Israel’s view, despite having a really strong relationship and affection for him as a person and player.”
Folau’s Instagram post was deleted, but the screen-grab was shared on social media. The 29-year-old dual-code international, who has won 62 caps for the Wallabies, made the comment in reply to another user who asked what was “gods plan” for gay people.
Chief executive Raelene Castle says social media use must be respectful after Rugby Australia decide against punishing Folau for anti-gay comments
“HELL… Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God,” Folau wrote. However, he was not formally sanctioned by Rugby Australia following a meeting earlier this week.
Greenberg also wanted to stress the importance of being an athlete when in the public eye.
“There are people who will read that and it will be quite damaging. There are young boys and girls in cities and regional areas who will read that and find it hard to deal with, because Israel has a large profile,” he added.
April 14, 2018, 8:30am
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“That would not have been his intent, but it is very damaging to some people.”
Folau played in the NRL from 2007-10 before he made a move to Aussie Rules for two years. He switched codes again in 2013 when he signed for the Waratahs.