Teammates refuse to kneel in new twist to Israel Folau furore

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Israel Folau, pictured here being joined by teammates in refusing to kneel.
Israel Folau was joined by two teammates as he once again remained standing. Image: Getty

Israel Folau was joined by two teammates as he once again remained standing during a Black Lives Matter protest in the UK Super League.

The former Wallabies star attracted criticism last week when he was the only player on the field not to kneel during a pre-game show of solidarity.

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On Saturday, Folau once again chose to remain standing before the Catalans Dragons’ clash with Castleford.

However this time he was joined by two teammates - Benjamin Jullien and former Sydney Roosters prop Sam Moa.

Sam Moa, Benjamin Julien and Israel Folau, pictured here standing during the protest.
Sam Moa, Benjamin Julien and Israel Folau stand whilst the teams take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Catalans coach Steve McNamara said after last Sunday's game that the players were free to make a personal choice on the matter and, as a devout Christian, Folau is thought to have taken the view that he will bow only to his God.

“He will only kneel for one being - his God,” a Catalans insider said last week.

“He obviously supports justice for black people, being of Islander background himself, but kneeling in protest goes against his beliefs.”

Folau makes statement on and off field

Folau was once more the talk of Headingley on Saturday, but this time for his prowess as a world-class player as he helped Catalans come from 14-0 down to earn a 40-14 victory.

The dual-code international showed his athleticism to score one individual try and create two more in a man-of-the-match performance as the French club bounced back in style from their 34-6 hammering by St Helens, scoring 40 unanswered points after they making an awful start.

Folau, who was sacked from his Rugby Australia contract in 2019 for homophobic comments on social media, endured a difficult start to the match as his opposite number, Michael Shenton, raced in for two tries inside the first 10 minutes.

However he stopped the rot when he unleashed winger Tom Davies on 22 minutes for his first try for the club before the Catalans took full advantage of the sin-binning of Castleford centre Peter Mata'utia for a dangerous tackle on Sami Langi.

Replacement hooker Alrix Da Costa squeezed over from dummy half for his side's second try and the Yorkshiremen were still down to 12 men when Folau broke clean through their first line of defence in spectacular fashion before handing off Eden to score a solo try.

James Maloney kicked his second conversion to edge the Dragons into a 16-14 interval lead and they extended it in fortuitous fashion four minutes into the second half.

Folau showed his class again on 62 minutes when he rose high to bring down Josh Drinkwater's high kick and offloaded from the subsequent tackle to get second rower Joel Tomkins over for a try.

The former Wallaby, whose wife is expecting their first child in Perpignan, recently signed a new contract for 2021 and McNamara insists there is much more to come from him.

“I hope he gets better and he's determined to,” McNamara said.

“He's got the potential to improve. I think there is a lot more to come, he works really hard.

“He was great today but his wife is due to give birth any time now and he nearly didn't get on the plane. Thankfully he did.”

with AAP