Kurtley Beale has added a fresh twist to the Israel Folau scandal, revealing he’s worried about his teammate’s mental health.
A state and Australian teammate of Folau’s since 2013, Beale can empathise with the dual international’s plight having himself taken on – and won – an employment battle with Rugby Australia five years ago.
The governing body attempted to sack Beale over the Di Patston text messaging scandal in late 2014 before he was spared at a tribunal hearing.
Beale was fined $45,000 but allowed to continue his career after being found guilty of a serious violation following an image he sent, prompting a complaint by the then-Wallabies’ business manager.
Folau also faces a code of conduct hearing next weekend after Rugby Australia declared its intention to terminate the star’s $4 million, four-year contract for his controversial social media posts.
Beale was non-committal when asked if he could see a way back for Folau, who has been stood down by the Waratahs and condemned by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.
“There’s obviously a bit of process going on now. Obviously it goes through the code of conduct (hearing),” Beale said on the eve of the Waratahs’ Super Rugby hosting of South Africa’s Sharks on Saturday night.
“I guess as a mate you just worry about his head space and you hope that he’s okay there and our full focus shifts now to the game on the weekend for us as a team.
“As a squad, we did that last week and it’s important that we continue that and keep building on the progress that we had last week.
“So it is what it is and we’ve just got to let the process kind of take over now.”
Ironically, Beale has taken over Folau’s fullback role at the Waratahs and could also end up wearing the No.15 gold jumper at this year’s World Cup in Japan if Folau fails to win his case against RA.
Ireland star latest victim
Ireland centre Bundee Aki is the latest player embroiled in the controversy, apologising after he “mistakenly liked” Folau’s anti-gay post.
Connacht player Aki, who has won 17 caps for Ireland, apologised on his Twitter account.
“I just want to address that I mistakenly liked Israel Folau’s post without paying any attention to the content,” Aki tweeted.
“When I realised what the post was about I immediately unliked it straight away, as it does not reflect my views as a Christian.
“Yes I do believe in God, but my belief is that he is a God of kindness, peace and loves people in all aspects.
“I have family members, friends, and I have worked with many people who are gay and I have nothing but love and respect for everyone of them.
“I do want to apologise for any confusion or offence this may have caused anyone, and I will pay more attention to what I ‘like’ in future.”