Sydney - Wallabies star Israel Folau said he has no regrets
about saying gay people would go to "hell" and holds no grudges
against his critics as he prepares for a return to Super Rugby.
Folau, sidelined from the Waratahs with a hamstring injury
since late March, has been selected to face the Auckland Blues in Sydney on
The devout Christian, one of Australia's most marketable
players, caused a storm when he made the comments on social media last month.
But he said he was not backing away from his staunch beliefs
regarding homosexuality, and insisted the backlash had not diminished his
desire to play.
"I've said what I've said in recent weeks, for
personally, just standing up for what I believe and standing firm on
that," he was cited as saying by Australian media on Friday.
"That's something that comes truly from the bottom of
my heart, it doesn't interfere with anything to do with my rugby and the guys
around, team-mates. I'm still the same person and I try to bring that energy as
best as I can when I'm around the team.
"Going out and playing on weekends doesn't change who I
Folau said he wasn't upset by the angry response to his
remarks, notably from All Blacks TJ Perenara and Brad Weber.
"Absolutely not, I don't take anything personally,"
Folau said. "I understand everyone is entitled to their opinions. I've
said what I've said in recent weeks, I leave it there."
Rugby Australia did not sanction Folau for his comments
despite the outrage of some sponsors and fans, given he was expressing his
Folau, who is out of contract at the end of this season and
has been linked with a move to rugby league, said the furore would not affect
any decision on his future.
"Absolutely not, it's nothing personal," he said.
"You're an adult, you've got to clear those things up and look at what are
the main things out of it.
"You can't hold grudges, you can't take anything
personal. I've been fine with how everything has rolled out the last
15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Clark, 13 Lalakai Foketi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Will Miller, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson
Substitutes: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Curtis Rona, 23 Bryce Hegarty
15 Matt Duffie, 14 Tumua Manu, 13 Orbyn Leger, 12 Rieko Ioane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Augustine Pulu (captain), 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 James Parsons, 1 Ross Wright
Subtitutes: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Mike Tamoaieta, 19 Ben Nee-Nee/Lyndon Dunshea, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Dan Kirkpatrick, 23 Terrence Hepetema