Israel Folau is building a Christian army.
Israel Folau is building a Christian army.

Folau’s dangerous call-to-arms to Christian brothers

Israel Folau has contacted a number of players around Australia and even in Japan asking them to show him support.

The under-fire Wallabies star has messaged Pacific Islander players at all of Australia's Super Rugby franchises and within the Sunwolves, hoping they will stand in solidarity with him for expressing his Christian beliefs.

And make no mistake; there are plenty who want to do so.

While Pasifika players have not considered boycotting games, some do feel compelled to make their views known about their support of Folau on social media, while some feel Folau has put them in an awkward situation.

The religious freedom debate has exposed a distinct gap between many of Australia's Pacific Island players - who are firm in their faith - and the rest.

Rugby Confidential is aware of discussions between players at Melbourne Rebels and Queensland Reds to make a show of solidarity during their match at AAMI Park on Friday night.

It has been proposed that the Christian players from both teams gather on the field either before kick-off or after full-time in a prayer huddle.

This is not uncommon; the Wallabies and some Super teams do this regularly.

While such a huddle on Friday night would be more of an expression of Christianity, the subliminal context around Folau would not be missed if it goes ahead.

 

Wallabies and Springboks huddle in prayer after a Test match. Picture: Getty
Wallabies and Springboks huddle in prayer after a Test match. Picture: Getty

 

Folau is a leader among the Christian players in Australia and several of them are extremely disappointed that his $4 million Rugby Australia contract could be terminated for posting Biblical scripture that they too believe in.

So far, none of the senior Pacific Islander players within the Wallabies have spoken publicly at length on Folau's situation.

Reds captain Samu Kerevi was forced to talk about his harmless Easter social media post, and spoke commendably about his beliefs and also sympathy for Folau, but if any of them open up about their true feelings on the saga it would be a public-relations nightmare for RA to deal with.

TIME FOR LIFTOFF

Rugby Australia might be getting blasted over their handling of the divisive Israel Folau case but there are still some people in very high places wanting to learn something from the organisation's team bonding culture.

That includes the world's biggest space agency - NASA - whose top Australian engineer has asked to meet with national men's sevens coach Tim Walsh.

Dr Aaron Pereira, who is working on a project with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, wanted some advice on how to build a successful team so a mutual friend suggested he speak to Walsh, who led Australia's champion women's side to gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Now the pair have agreed to sit down together at Rugby Australia's Moore Park headquarters next week to share their ideas about leadership in high performance teams.

CHEIK'S LOW-KEY APPEARANCE

Days before his surprise appearance at Folau's hearing, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika made another visit to Moore Park, but with far less scrutiny and fanfare.

Cheika was invited to present the jerseys to the women's sevens team before they flew out to Canada for the penultimate round of the World Series, where he drove home the point that no-one should ever take selection for granted.

 

Michael Cheika was a surprise visitor before the women’s sevens team departed for Canada. Picture: Getty
Michael Cheika was a surprise visitor before the women’s sevens team departed for Canada. Picture: Getty

 

The Australian captain Sharni Williams said all the players were impressed by Cheika's message.

"(He told us) that jersey's really special and not a lot of people get to wear the jersey," Williams said.

"Coming from Michael Cheika who's coach of the Wallabies and never been able to don a jersey, it was a really important message to us that this doesn't last forever and that you need to live in the moment and live in the now."



The Fraser Coast council wants your weed... really

premium_icon The Fraser Coast council wants your weed... really

The council is calling for your weed...really

BRUMBIES: New sighting of feral horses on Fraser Island

premium_icon BRUMBIES: New sighting of feral horses on Fraser Island

The island has about 35 motion activated cameras on the island.

Warnings after teen collapses on mountain climb

premium_icon Warnings after teen collapses on mountain climb

16yo schoolgirl airlifted off the mountain