Folau stands firm after controversial comments

Darren Walton

Israel Folau won't let a month-long firestorm burn his commitment to rugby, saying backlash from his controversial comments about homosexuality will not push him out of the code.

Speaking for the first time since claiming gay people were headed to "HELL ... unless they repent their sins and turn to God", Folau on Thursday was making no promises to change or be more careful with his online commentary.

"I stand firm in what I believe in and that's something personal with who I am," the devout Christian said.

"That's something that comes truly from the bottom of my heart. That doesn't interfere with anything to do with my rugby and the guys around me.

"As teammates, I'm still the same person and I try to bring that energy as best I can when I'm around the team and obviously going out and playing on the weekends doesn't change who I am.

"That's the most important thing that I've learnt probably the last month."

Despite pressure from major sponsors Qantas and Asics, Rugby Australia opted not to sanction Folau for his provocative comments.

Folau is returning for the Waratahs this week. Image: Getty

Nor has the 29-year-old been hurt by backlash from both fans and rival players, including All Blacks star TJ Perenara and Chiefs halfback Brad Weber, who said Folau's posts disgusted him.

"Absolutely not," Folau said when asked if the criticism stung.

"I don't take anything personally. I understand everyone is entitled to their opinions and I've said what I've said in recent weeks. I leave it there."

Folau is off contract at the end of 2018, with RA eager to retain the three-times John Eales Medallist as Australia's Test player of the year through to at least the 2019 World Cup despite obvious interest from the NRL and cashed-up clubs in Europe and Japan.

The code-hopping star insists the recent drama won't impact on his decision whether or not to stay in the 15-man game.

"At the end of the day, you're an adult. You've got to clear those things up and you've got to look at what are the main things out of it," the fullback said ahead of his Super Rugby comeback for the NSW Waratahs on Saturday following five weeks out with a hamstring injury.

"You can't hold grudges, you can't take anything personally. I've been fine with how everything's rolled out the last month.

"My focus is obviously on getting back out there on the field, which is an exciting time for me."