Kurtley Beale: Wallabies not divided over Folau sacking
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Wallabies veteran Kurtley Beale says there is no division among players over the sacking of fullback Israel Folau.
Folau is considering legal action after his four-year contract was terminated by Rugby Australia over his anti-gay social media posts.
Some Wallabies players of Pacific Island heritage who share Folau’s religious beliefs have expressed strong support for his views and opposition to his sacking. Others, including Walalbies captain Michael Hooper, have said they would find it difficult to play with Folau because of the homophobic nature of his comments.
Beale said Wednesday that players attending a Wallabies training camp had been given the chance to express their views on Folau’s treatment and there was no sign of division which could impact the Wallabies preparation for the World Cup in Japan, now only four months away.
“No, everyone was pretty good,” Beale said. “Obviously there’s a lot of speculation around that stuff, but I think those camps are for individuals to step up to make sure we’re all committing to the cause and making sure they’re getting their own backyard sorted so when selection times come around they’re ready to pounce - and there was no sign of that at all.
“It was all positive and I think just a lot of excitement for what we have to come.”
Beale said coach Michael Cheika had spoken to players about Folau at the start of the camp, then allowed players to discuss the issue among themselves.
“That was one of the main things we did in small groups and we did touch on it,” he said. “Guys let it out and then we got on with the camp.
“It’s obviously an issue that needed to be addressed and the coaches gave the players an opportunity to speak about it, if they wanted to speak about it, and after those meetings everyone was down to business.
“It’s a bit sad obviously that Izzy’s not going to be in the game anymore, but it’s important that we all keep moving forward now.”
Beale said Folau retained his “full support” and he regretted he would no longer be part of the Wallabies team.
“I mean, on the field he was just unbelievable,” he said. “The impact he had and the presence he had on the field was immense and it lifted everyone in the group. He’s an amazing talent and he will be missed.”