Sport Union Teary Folau defends beliefs in church sermon

Teary Folau defends beliefs in church sermon

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Israel Folau was sacked in May after inflammatory social media posts. Getty
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Video has emerged of embattled Wallabies star Israel Folau breaking down in tears while delivering a church sermon on Easter Sunday.

The footage came as the fiercely religious fullback prepares to face a Rugby Australia code of conduct hearing on Saturday to determine the future of his $4 million contract.

“At some stage, each and every one of us will face our own fiery furnace – and some of us may have already faced that,” Folau said during the sermon at his Truth Of Jesus Christ Church in Sydney on April 21.

“In your workforce, if they’re telling you something that will compromise your faith, this is a test of faith in which you’re going to be put in a challenge, and the question is ‘What are you going to do?’,” he said.

The footage of the fiercely religious fullback was revealed by Sydney’s Daily Telegraph on Thursday.

Folau will be fighting to save his career when he challenges RA’s intention to tear up his four-year, $4 million contract at a landmark code of conduct hearing beginning in Sydney on Saturday.

Sunday has also been reserved should the three-person panel of chairman John West QC, RA representative Kate Eastman SC and the Rugby Union Players’ Association-elected John Boultbee require further deliberations.

Either way, RA has already declared the panel is not expected to deliver a decision on the weekend.

On the Easter Sunday video, a fellow worshipper rushes to bring Folau tissues to dry his eyes as he breaks down. The star fullback then tells a Bible story of three men who stood up for their beliefs under the threat of death.

“With these guys, they were challenged and it was a matter of life and death, physical death. But they understood their treasures were stored up in heaven, not here on Earth,” he said.

“As the scriptures say, don’t set your mind on things below, but set it on things above.”

Rugby Australia was quick to act after Folau’s social media post in April. Within days, he was told he faced the sack for what Rugby Australia’s integrity unit deemed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct.

Folau’s views have been widely condemned by other sportspeople, including some of his Wallabies and Waratahs teammates. He has also had support, including this week from Wallabies forward Taniela Tupou.

“Seriously Might as well sack me and all the other Pacific Islands rugby players around the world because we have the same Christian beliefs,” Tupou wrote on social media.

“I will never apologise for my faith and what I believe in, religion had nothing to do with rugby anyways… #TYJ.”

Tupou’s post came after Queensland and Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi drew controversy for thanking “the heavenly father” in a Good Friday interview after the Reds’ Super Rugby win over the Sharks in Durban.

On Thursday, Kerevi said Tupou’s post had been taken the wrong way.

“Nella [Tupou] is all good,” he said Kerevi. “He’s an emotional fella, just having my back and I love that about him.

“But I’d rather have him do his talking on the field.”

Kerevi was among the athletes to “like” Folau’s April post claiming hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators” unless they repent and turn to Jesus Christ.

He refused to be drawn this week on whether he regretted liking the post, or if he had been spoken to by the governing body since.

“It’s all been dealt with, I don’t want to talk about it too much. Everything is all good from my end, no pressures at all,” he said.

-with AAP