Coach Daryl Gibson on June 6 said 24-year-old John Folau had been grappling with “divided loyalties” before being granted a release from the Waratahs.
The ordeal of seeing his brother sacked by Rugby Australia and the Waratahs for expressing his controversial religious beliefs on social media appears to have taken its toll on the young backline utility.
“We gave John some time off for leave and he has come back to us recently and asked for a release, which we’re happy to grant,” Gibson said.
“John has been in a difficult position for the last wee while. He has got really divided loyalties to his family and his brother and then also to the team.
“He wanted to stress how much he enjoyed being with the team and what a difficult decision it was for him.”
The 24-year-old former Parramatta NRL player did not play a match for the Waratahs, being named on the bench but not getting on against the Sunwolves earlier this season.
Waratahs team vs Brumbies. Latu bracketed as NSW and Rugby AU mull result of hearing. He pleaded guilty to drink driving, adjourned to June 14.
John Folau granted early release for personal reasons, after struggling with “divided loyalties” in the wake of Israel’s sacking. pic.twitter.com/XV4aLuJCvX
— Beth Newman (@bethknewman) June 6, 2019
That was as close as he came to making his Super Rugby debut, after playing three first-grade games for the Eels during a three-year stint at Parramatta from 2015-17.
Israel Folau is still considering his legal position amid reports he is also trying to resurrect his NRL career.
The dual international and Super Rugby’s all-time leading try-scorer opted against appealing his “high-level” breach of RA’s code of conduct, saying he had lost faith in the governing body’s ability to treat him fairly and lawfully.
He may still pursue the matter in court, claiming unfair dismissal by RA.
Gibson said he was not sure whether John Folau would ever play rugby again.
“We can all understand the loyalty he has to his family and to his brother and totally respect that position,” Gibson said while declining to speculate on whether or not John decision to walk away from rugby was an act of solidarity to Israel.
By Darren Walton