Former Wallaby FitzSimons supports sacking Folau

News 12/04/2019

Former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons feels Israel Folau has given the rugby and gay communities the "middle finger" after his latest social media posts.

Folau took to Instagram on Wednesday night, claiming hell awaited "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters", unless they repented.

He also slammed the Tasmania state government for making gender optional on birth certificates.

Folau was already on a tight leash following similar comments he made 12 months ago, and Rugby Australia has now told the 73-test veteran his contract will be terminatedunless he can explain his latest social media attacks on the LGBTQ community.

The 30-year-old just signed a multimillion-dollar four-year extension with Rugby Australia through till 2022.

Speaking on the AM Show, FitzSimons, who firmly believes Folau will be sacked, said this is a real kick in the guts for rugby and the gay community in Australia.

"Every time he scores a try, he's known for lifting his index finger to the heavens basically thanking God for giving me the ability to score such a great try," FitzSimons explained.

This wasn't that. This was metaphorically a middle finger to rugby, the Wallabies, the Waratahs, the rugby community and the gay community.

"It was the same post he shared last year. Last year it went on for three weeks, and it was debilitating for rugby.

"But he could half get away with it last year, because he wasn't aware of the social media policy, wasn't aware what was going to happen.

If you're troubled by your sexuality, I think you would have taken lots of heart from the voices that spoke out against Folau.

FitzSimons added he'd had a flood of emails from disgruntled Australian rugby supporters who will stop supporting the team if Folau doesn't get the flick.

"Australian rugby supporters wrote to the ARU, many of them CCing me, BCCing me saying 'I supported this game for 50 years, I've gone to the games, taken my kids to the games, and if you don't sack this guy, I'll never turn up again'".

"Their headquarters would have been shaking. And there would have been plenty of emails from sponsors.

"From that point of view, Australian Rugby have to let him. But the most important thing is they're making a stand against homophobia - the suicides amongst that community are very high."

The Wallabies' biggest sponsor, Qantas put out a statement on Thursday night saying they were pleased with how Rugby Australia's has handled the situation so far. 

"These comments are really disappointing, and clearly don't reflect the spirit of inclusion and diversity that we support," the statement read.

We are pleased to see Rugby Australia's condemnation of the comments and will await the outcome of their review. 

FitzSimons feel Folau's family need to have a good, honest conversation with him about sharing his religious views on social media.

"He's a brilliant rugby player, softly spoken guy but when he comes out with this stuff, I don't know where it comes from or what he's thinking.

"Why the people close to him don't sit him down and say you have your religious beliefs, but it's nobody business what you believe.

"Some people are born with blonde hair, some people are born with black hair, some are born gay, and some are born straight. It's all the luck of the draw.

Somebody has to say that to him and tell him how dangerous this stuff is.

AM Show sports host Mark Richardson feels Folau's comments were "selfish" and that his actions will have dire consequences for Australian Rugby in the near future.

"This goes past Australia losing one of their players," he said. "They can't afford a poor world cup for the sake of the game in that country.

"It is not one of the most followed sports. It's under pressure at the best of times. They must perform.

"We need a decent Australia to play against. Southern hemisphere rugby needs a decent Australia to play against. He's put that in jeopardy. It was selfish."

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Ben Francis