Lost in Israel Folau’s pointed swipe at Rugby Australia was the message that he wants to keep playing rugby.
Sports journo Andrew Webster threw a curveball in the sorry saga on Sunday when he claimed Folau’s real motives for his controversial social media posts were that he’s simply “had enough” of professional sport.
Speaking on Channel 9’s Sport Sunday, Sydney Morning Herald journo Webster claimed Wallabies staff are of the belief that Folau was looking for a way out of his career.
“People within the Wallabies set-up are certain that a lot of this is driven by the fact that he’s just had enough,” Webster said.
“He’s been playing professional sport from the age of 17, when he debuted for the Melbourne Storm.
“He’s played three different codes, and they seem to think that the way that he has acted and the way that he was just such a renegade with this last social media post after what happened exactly a year ago, suggests to them in the Wallabies set-up that he just doesn’t want to play professional sport any more.
“It’s also his beliefs; he’s dug in for that.”
However Folau issued a strongly-worded statement in Monday in which he directly refuted that idea.
“My decision not to commence Rugby Australia’s appeal process is in no way an acceptance of the judicial panel’s findings,” said Folau in a statement addressing his decision not to appeal the termination of his contract.
“I simply do not have confidence in Rugby Australia’s ability to treat me fairly or lawfully throughout this process.
“I believe I still have a lot of rugby left in me and the potential impact of Rugby Australia’s decision on my reputation and my career is substantial.
“Ultimately, I need to do what is best for my family, my teammates and the fans, so I am considering all potential avenues open to me.”
The NRL has already closed the door on Folau, and it’s believed he doesn’t want to go overseas while wife Maria is still playing netball with the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
What’s left is the likely legal action he’s reportedly set to launch against Rugby Australia.
‘Change the landscape of sport’
He had been given until Monday afternoon to appeal his high-level code of conduct breach and sanction over his religiously-motivated but controversial social media posts.
"As Folau has not notified the panel of his intention to appeal, the code of conduct process has now formally concluded," RA said on Monday.
"With the code of conduct matter complete, Folau's employment contract will be terminated."
Last Friday the three-person panel found Folau's contract should be terminated after his Instagram posts, including one proclaiming hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters".
That came after Folau had been warned against making such posts before signing his new contract last year. He'd previously posted that hell awaited homosexuals unless they repented.
Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle said at the time the decision would have ramifications across the sporting world.
"This is a decision that will change the landscape for sport across Australia and perhaps internationally," she said.
"It will be landmark, it will be important, and it is a big decision.
"He is a very important player in our game and he has been for a long period of time and we wanted to make sure we took the time to get it right."