Infotainment Factory: Australian captain's damning Folau takedown

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Saturday, 20 April 2019

Australian captain's damning Folau takedown


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Israel Folau thinks he is bigger than the World Cup-bound Wallabies and would be an outcast among teammates, Australian netball captain Caitlin Bassett says.

Folau is on the brink of being formally sacked by Rugby Australia after being issued a breach notice for his latest anti-gay rant on social media, which he says is reflective of his hardline religious beliefs. A three-person panel will determined Folau's fate at a hearing.

Former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons said that whatever the outcome, Folau will never play for Australia again.

“(He’s) lost the dressing room,” FitzSimons said on Sports Sunday.

“Whatever happens, this is a trainwreck. The only thing we need to work out is how many casualties will there be — who is going to be left standing at the end of it? How hard is he going to fight it?

“But he will not play for the Wallabies again. Certainly not under that coach [Michael Cheika], anyway.

"We're going into battle here, four or five months we're going to be there in the World Cup. Are you doing your sit-ups, are you doing your sit-ups, are you just keeping quiet on this stuff so that we don't throw bombs?

"Please, stop - why are you doing this? Because from the moment you pressed that button, it was absolutely automatic you would engulf our entire team in a distraction that will go for weeks. Why did you do that?"

Bassett, the current Diamonds captain who will lead Australia in the netball World Cup this year, told Sports Sunday that Folau was being selfish.

"The word 'distraction' - it is distracting for the team when you're trying to focus on winning a World Cup and it would be very hard," Bassett said.

"No one is bigger than the team and I think Izzy has made it quite clear that he thinks he is at the moment, which is really frustrating I guess for the Wallabies. Not just them, but their sponsors and their fans."

Bassett said that despite the sporting convention of setting aside personal differences to commit to a common cause, she would find it difficult to play with Folau after his attack on gay and transgender people.

"That's obviously not my beliefs and I would find it very hard," she said.

"Obviously he's talking about freedom of speech and his arguments with the lawyers, I think it was quite clear that he had a social media policy that he had in his contract when he signed it. When there's something like that in your contract and you deliberately go against it, I think he knew that he was going to get into trouble.

"At the end of the day, sport is sport - we know what it's like. You go out and you do battle with your teammates out there on court, or on the field or pitch, or whatever it [may] be. And whoever you are, wherever you come from, you drop those things and work together as a team.

"But it must be very hard when something like that is going on just outside the door."

Bassett said that Folau would face being ostracised by teammates if he somehow returned to the Wallabies.

"Could you imagine coming back into that team, knowing no one wants you to be there? You'd be sitting on the team bus by yourself at the back [while] everyone's having fun and chatting," she said.

Bassett also said that Folau's actions could impact two World Cups, given his wife Maria is a New Zealand netballer. Maria Folau moved to Australia ahead of this Super Netball season with Adelaide Thunderbirds so that she was living in the same country as her husband.

"Definitely, I think it is a distraction from that point of view," Bassett said, a GWS Giants player.

"I know she wanted to come to Australia to be closer to her husband, who was playing in Sydney. Now, if he leaves, I guess potentially what happens to her and how that disrupt [Adelaide] Thunderbirds, who are one of our competitors this year. And obviously [New Zealand] Silver Ferns, who we're going to be playing against in the World Cup as well."

Folau had a carefree lunch a day after his Rugby Australia contract was terminated

Australian basketball great Shane Heal also took aim at Folau.

"Surely he feels like he's bigger than the game, because with that sort of warning that he got and for him to come out and make those sort of statements, it's almost like he's thinking, 'I'm untouchable. It doesn't matter what I say even though I've had a warning'."

FitzSimons said that he was anticipating the verdict of Folau's teammate David Pocock, with the Wallabies forward a strident gay rights advocate.

"I'd love to see what David Pocock would say," FitzSimons said.

"Remember there was a gay epithet about two years ago, where Pocock stopped the game and said [to the referee], 'Those two over there ... are calling this fellow a gay epithet'. And the game was stopped and there was hell to pay.

"But Pocock's point was, we're rugby, we don't do that. We're all shapes, all sizes, all sexualities, we don't do that anymore."

Israel Folau thinks he is bigger than the World Cup-bound Wallabies and would be an outcast among teammates, Australian netball captain Caitlin Bassett says.

Folau is on the brink of being formally sacked by Rugby Australia after being issued a breach notice for his latest anti-gay rant on social media, which he says is reflective of his hardline religious beliefs. A three-person panel will determined Folau's fate at a hearing.

Former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons said that whatever the outcome, Folau will never play for Australia again.

“(He’s) lost the dressing room,” FitzSimons said on Sports Sunday.

“Whatever happens, this is a trainwreck. The only thing we need to work out is how many casualties will there be — who is going to be left standing at the end of it? How hard is he going to fight it?

“But he will not play for the Wallabies again. Certainly not under that coach [Michael Cheika], anyway.

"We're going into battle here, four or five months we're going to be there in the World Cup. Are you doing your sit-ups, are you doing your sit-ups, are you just keeping quiet on this stuff so that we don't throw bombs?

"Please, stop - why are you doing this? Because from the moment you pressed that button, it was absolutely automatic you would engulf our entire team in a distraction that will go for weeks. Why did you do that?"

Bassett, the current Diamonds captain who will lead Australia in the netball World Cup this year, told Sports Sunday that Folau was being selfish.

"The word 'distraction' - it is distracting for the team when you're trying to focus on winning a World Cup and it would be very hard," Bassett said.

"No one is bigger than the team and I think Izzy has made it quite clear that he thinks he is at the moment, which is really frustrating I guess for the Wallabies. Not just them, but their sponsors and their fans."

Bassett said that despite the sporting convention of setting aside personal differences to commit to a common cause, she would find it difficult to play with Folau after his attack on gay and transgender people.

"That's obviously not my beliefs and I would find it very hard," she said.

"Obviously he's talking about freedom of speech and his arguments with the lawyers, I think it was quite clear that he had a social media policy that he had in his contract when he signed it. When there's something like that in your contract and you deliberately go against it, I think he knew that he was going to get into trouble.

"At the end of the day, sport is sport - we know what it's like. You go out and you do battle with your teammates out there on court, or on the field or pitch, or whatever it [may] be. And whoever you are, wherever you come from, you drop those things and work together as a team.

"But it must be very hard when something like that is going on just outside the door."

Bassett said that Folau would face being ostracised by teammates if he somehow returned to the Wallabies.

"Could you imagine coming back into that team, knowing no one wants you to be there? You'd be sitting on the team bus by yourself at the back [while] everyone's having fun and chatting," she said.

Bassett also said that Folau's actions could impact two World Cups, given his wife Maria is a New Zealand netballer. Maria Folau moved to Australia ahead of this Super Netball season with Adelaide Thunderbirds so that she was living in the same country as her husband.

"Definitely, I think it is a distraction from that point of view," Bassett said, a GWS Giants player.

"I know she wanted to come to Australia to be closer to her husband, who was playing in Sydney. Now, if he leaves, I guess potentially what happens to her and how that disrupt [Adelaide] Thunderbirds, who are one of our competitors this year. And obviously [New Zealand] Silver Ferns, who we're going to be playing against in the World Cup as well."

Folau had a carefree lunch a day after his Rugby Australia contract was terminated

Australian basketball great Shane Heal also took aim at Folau.

"Surely he feels like he's bigger than the game, because with that sort of warning that he got and for him to come out and make those sort of statements, it's almost like he's thinking, 'I'm untouchable. It doesn't matter what I say even though I've had a warning'."

FitzSimons said that he was anticipating the verdict of Folau's teammate David Pocock, with the Wallabies forward a strident gay rights advocate.

"I'd love to see what David Pocock would say," FitzSimons said.

"Remember there was a gay epithet about two years ago, where Pocock stopped the game and said [to the referee], 'Those two over there ... are calling this fellow a gay epithet'. And the game was stopped and there was hell to pay.

"But Pocock's point was, we're rugby, we don't do that. We're all shapes, all sizes, all sexualities, we don't do that anymore."

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