Israel Folau is making all the headlines for the wrong reasons these days with his outspoken views and it has already cost him the chance to represent the Wallabies at international level.
These forthright opinions though, haven’t stopped him from receiving a huge payout from Rugby Australia after Folau took them to court for unfair dismissal.
Initially, Folau sought $14m in lost earnings after having his contract terminated by Rugby Australia but after the governing body of Australian rugby decided to settle out of court, it is believed Folau was paid out in the region of $8m.
After having received such a significant lump sum, you’re left wondering if indeed Folau’s reputation isn’t as toxic as it once was, or if you’re not willing to go that far then possibly the idea of chairmen out there in the Super League considering the possibility of handing Folau a contract must surely be an option.
— Sky Sports Rugby Union (@SkySportsRugby) February 24, 2018
It has been rumoured that a lot of NRL clubs have been eyeing Folau after waiting to see how his court case against Rugby Australia went.
Now that he is $8m richer there simply have to be a few teams considering whether or not they can afford to take the initial backlash that signing Folau would bring.
Sure, there may be some sponsors that run for the hills or at least put pressure on the clubs they are affiliated with to back off and retract their decision, but that will obviously be weighed up against signing one of the top three rugby players in the world.
The 30-year-old is more than open to the idea of playing rugby league again and would make any team he signed for significantly better.
If you look at what happened with rugby union side the Blue Bulls and the story their CEO Alfonso Meyer tells of being contacted by a lawyer who asked the South African domestic side whether they would be interested in giving Folau a contract, only for them to refuse based on the comments he made.
What is telling though is what Meyer had to say after that: “if it wasn’t for his comments, we would have given our all to have him in the group”.
That certainly sounds like the rhetoric around Folau has died down to the extent where an unequivocal apology would see him being offered the chance to join any team in the world.
Sorry may well be the hardest word but if you were to go back and reexamine the Billy Vunipola saga and his initial support for Folau, it all of a sudden doesn’t seem like a shut door anymore.
The England Number 8 managed to avoid punishment or suspension by simply releasing a statement that ‘clarified his comments’.
There wasn’t the slightest hint of an apology but that didn’t matter because the truth at the end of the day is that top teams around the world can’t afford to lose their best players.
Just look at England now: if you were to bet on Six Nations with Paddy Power’s odds you’d see the Red Roses as the outright favourites and being backed to win the tournament comfortably.
That’s because they still have the full contingent of their best players to choose from, unlike Australia who have become the whipping boys of international rugby after losing their most talented player, and subsequently a great deal of momentum.
FULL TIME here in Oita.
Thank you to all of our fans for your incredible support throughout our #RWC2019 journey! ありがとうございました
— Wallabies (@wallabies) October 19, 2019
The point is that it won’t take a great deal of grovelling – if any – from Folau to join the professional ranks again and with the word on the street being that the Aussie is keen to join rugby league once more, you wonder if the call won’t come in from an English club soon.
There will be many deliberations going on around the boardrooms across the world now that Folau has come through his court case having been awarded damages.