After being sacked by Rugby Australia for an instagram post that claimed everyone that wasn’t Israel Folau was going to hell, then looking to get support from punters for his legal challenge to his sacking via crowd funding, now Israel Folau can add strike breaking scab to his list of reasons why people don’t like him.
Moves by the under pressure Tongan Rugby League board to bring in Israel Folau and his brother in an effort to replace the main squad of players who had refused to turn out for Tonga until the board was replaced look to have fallen apart, with the Tongan Prime Minister now stepping in to resolve the matter.
It seems player power and the support of the RLIF have won the battle, with the Tongan Rugby League board now likely to go through a reform process, one that will see the board replaced, former coach Kristian Woolf reinstated, the players lifting their threat to strike, and this all leaves Israel Folau on the outside looking in once again.
The question must now be asked, will the Tongan Rugby League look to add Folau to the full strength Tongan Rugby League team in the upcoming test matches?
While it would be unfair to select Folau ahead of players who have been committed to the team for far longer, its must be remembered that sport isn’t all about fairness. If Tonga decides Folau is the best player available I have no issue with them selecting him ahead of someone else. That is sport. It happens all the time. Whether a former Rugby Union player who hasn’t played the game for about a decade and who hasn’t played a game of any kind for months is Tonga’s best option through is another question all together.
You then have to look at the standards you want to set for selection of this, and any future Tongan team. With Tonga being so strong, bolstered with NRL talent, do you want to open the door for players from outside of Rugby League to walk straight into the side? I am not so sure that is a great idea.
On top of that, Folau will be ineligible to play in the Rugby League World Cup 9’s next month due to it being run by the Australian Rugby League. Folau has been banned from competing in Rugby League in Australia by a ruling handed down by the ARL commission. Rightly or wrongly, they don’t want him to participate in the Rugby League 9’s World Cup.
Whether he is barred from playing for Tonga all together by the RLIF is a very contentious call however…
While very few people agree with what Folau posted on his Instagram account, there is the question of why Rugby League would allow players convicted in court of violent, criminal offences to turn out for nations but would take a stance on Israel Folau. It would seem to be a very strange double standard, one New Zealand legend Benji Marshall called out earlier this week.
Folau would probably have overwhelming support to return to the game has he not posted such a wide ranging condemnation of most of humanity on his Instagram post. At the end of the day he has no one but himself to blame for his lack of support.
Folau has not committed a criminal offence. He posted something stupid on Instagram. Yet here we are, discussing the merits of Folau returning to Rugby League when every single other player who has walked away from the game, committed criminal acts, been to jail, been involved in off field scandals, been involved in drug use, including the use of performance enhancing drugs, is seemingly embraced by the game.
It shows that sometimes its better to be likeable than good, and in Israel Folau’s case, he has rubbed some many people the wrong way that he struggles to get the support needed in the game to make a full return to Rugby League.
What a strange position that must be for a player who was once one of the games most loved players…