Gibson hopes Folau will stay in rugby, says next play is Rugby Australia's

 smh.com.au  4/17/2018 1:57:59 AM 

“I can’t talk for Rugby Australia,” Gibson said. “He certainly made it clear on his position."

Asked if he thought Folau would turn his back on the 15-man code, Gibson replied: “That’s not for me to decide. I know those discussions are ongoing and the dialogue between Rugby Australia and Israel is continuing and there hasn’t been a timeframe put on those discussions. Those are questions for Rugby Australia.

Loading

“We want Israel to stay in rugby. That’s the first thing. He enjoys the game and so our immediate concerns are making sure he stays in rugby and that he’s happy here.

“What I think is irrelevant. Israel made it really clear that what he expressed aren’t the views of Rugby Australia or the Waratahs and they are his specific views. He’s made that really clear and he made it really clear where they came from and why those beliefs are so dear to him and why he’s articulating them.”

Fairfax Media has since been told that Folau will escape punishment, with Castle understood to be satisfied with the "respectful" tone of the column.

Gibson was speaking after Folau's first-person piece appeared on the Players Voice website on Monday, in which the star the details of his meeting with RA and expressed his disappointment at how it was subsequently portrayed.

Folau wrote: “After we’d all talked, I told Raelene if she felt the situation had become untenable – that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldn’t be worked through – I would walk away from my contract, immediately. At no stage over the past two weeks have I wanted that to happen.

Higher calling: Israel Folau did not train on Tuesday, but visited Waratahs HQ.

Higher calling: Israel Folau did not train on Tuesday, but visited Waratahs HQ.

Photo: Louie Douvis

"I felt Raelene misrepresented my position and my comments and did so to appease other people, which is an issue I need to discuss with her and others at Rugby Australia."

Folau won’t play for the Waratahs on Friday against the Lions because he is still recovering from a hamstring injury.

He was spotted at Waratahs headquarters yesterday in casual clothing. He said hello to some teammates but did not stick around for the squad’s training session at 11am.

Gibson said the Folau sideshow had not distracted the wider playing group, who will be aiming for their fifth straight victory later this week.

“We’re not all going to agree on the same thing,” Gibson said. “All players are free to express themselves in any way they see fit. What I have been really impressed with is the team have supported Israel. We may not all agree with his belief but we support him as a teammate and his right to express that freedom.

“Certainly we’ve never held anyone from expressing their point of view. For us, the education in all of this is being really clear on when to articulate your view and choose your forum.

"I haven’t had an opportunity to talk to the team but certainly it’s something in the future that I want to do.”

Waratahs prop Tom Robertson also said he would love to see his Wallabies teammate stick around in rugby.

"I’ve played 50-odd games with him now and it’s a pretty special feeling running through the sheds and going into the stadium when you’ve got Israel Folau behind you," Robertson said. "If he could do that for the next few years that’d be fantastic because I know I’m here for a long time, so hopefully he is too."

« Go back