While subtle, Israel Folau has sent a clear message with his latest social media activity.
The Waratahs and Wallabies superstar is expected to learn his fate this week, possibly as early as Wednesday, after being found guilty of a high-level breach of Rugby Australia’s professional players’ code of conduct.
The independent three-member panel that deemed Folau’s controversial social media posts about homosexuals and other so-called “sinners” being destined for hell is considering written submissions from Folau’s legal team and the governing body.
As he awaits his fate, Folau has hinted that he knows the end is near.
On Tuesday night, Folau changed the profile picture on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.
While it had previously been a photo of him playing for the Waratahs – pointing to the sky after scoring a try – it’s now a pic of a large No.1 with the words ‘God first’ in the middle.
The fact that he’s ditched the photo of him playing rugby and replaced it with one about his faith could be seen as an act of defiance and a signal that he’s accepted his fate.
Termination of his four-year, $4 million contract seems likely, rather than a fine or suspension, after he rejected a peace offering from RA to remove his latest inflammatory post from Instagram and be allowed to play on.
On Sunday, Folau revealed how he resisted the “temptation” of a peace offering from RA that would have allowed him to resurrect his playing career.
The troubled Wallabies star described his fallout with the governing body as “challenging” and spoke of being tempted by the “opportunity” to rekindle his career with the NSW Waratahs and Wallabies during a Sydney church address.
But, in a video of him speaking at a church service on Sunday afternoon, Folau insisted the process was not finished and the “outcome is yet to be known”.
“Potentially I could get terminated, which means that there’s no more playing contract and therefore no more finances or money coming in,” he said from the lectern.
“It would be the first time it has happened to me in my life.
“All the materialistic things I have been able to have over the last number of years are slowly being taken away from me.
“It’s been really challenging but also it’s been encouraging to myself to see what my God is actually doing.”
It’s understood Super Rugby’s all-time leading try-scorer would have been allowed to resume playing again had he agreed to take down his latest controversial post.
“There have been many opportunities to potentially make the situation a little bit easier. I could go back and play the game, get everything back to the way it used to be,” Folau said.
“The way Satan works is he offers you stuff that could look good to the eye and makes you feel comfortable, and if you follow that path all the worries and troubles will go away.
“(But) it is always the will of God that comes first.”