Even by Wayne’s standards, this was tense.
The NRL appears to have ruled out any prospect of Israel Folau returning to the game after ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie said the rugby star had no support from league officialdom.
Rugby Australia announced its intention to sack Folau on Thursday following his latest social media missive, a meme which said hell awaits homosexuals.
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A former NRL star who played rugby league for Queensland and Australia, it was thought a return to the 13-man game could be an option if Rugby Australia goes through with terminating Folau’s contract.
But that prospect now seems unlikely after Beattie raised his concerns about the 30 year-old back.
“Israel Folau doesn’t pass our inclusiveness culture, which is a policy strongly supported by the ARLC,” Beattie told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“And after talking to some commissioners tonight (Thursday), we don’t support him playing rugby league again.”
Chief executive Todd Greenberg had earlier declined to comment – at least while Folau remained a contracted rugby player.
Last year Greenberg said Folau could be welcomed back to the sport, but also indicated his use of social media to espouse his deeply held religious beliefs, sometimes at the expense of others, could be an issue.
In 2018 Folau had been called out by Rugby Australia for other controversial social media posts.
“All our athletes have to be careful,” Greenberg told the Sydney Morning Herald last April.
“There are young boys and girls who will read that (anti-homosexual posts) and find it hard to deal with because Israel has a large profile. That would not have been his intent, but it is very damaging to some people.”