Rugby superstar Israel Folau has briefly removed and then reinstated his Twitter and Instagram accounts the day before his legal fight against his former employers Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs begins in Melbourne.
The former Wallaby is seeking $10 million in damages and for his contract to be reinstated, claiming he was unfairly dismissed when he paraphrased a Bible passage on social media saying drunks, homosexuals, fornicators and others would go to hell if they didn’t repent.
Lawyers for Folau, Rugby Australia and the Waratahs will appear at the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne for a directions hearing on Tuesday.
The matter will be video-linked to Sydney.
The court appearance was scheduled after the Fair Work Commission confirmed on July 19 all reasonable attempts had been made to resolve the dispute.
Folau broke his silence on the controversy surrounding his sacking on June 27, claiming that Rugby Australia (RA) offered him money to take down the controversial post.
Folau’s $4 million contract was terminated in May after he breached RA’s terms by sharing a social media post that warned “sinners” including drunks, homosexuals and liars would go to Hell if they did not repent.
Reiterating his views and controversial actions, the 30-year-old Folau claimed Thursday night that he wasn’t in breach of his contract.
When asked by Alan Jones in an interview on Sky News if RA had offered him money to take down the post, the rugby star said: “Yes. I said ‘no’. I couldn’t do that”.
“As a person convicted by my faith, I couldn’t live with that,” he said.
Following up the explosive claim, Peta Credlin then asked if RA had offered the money to “make the problem go away”?
“Yes, that’s how they looked at it,” he said.
“I feel like I was backed into a corner … That I had to compromise in order to agree to what they were asking.
“In the end, like I said, I couldn’t do it because my faith to me is what is most important.”
Asked by Jones if there was anything in his contract that dictated what he should say online, the former Wallaby simply replied: “Nah”.
Folau said his social media comments came from a place of love.