League great calls on Israel Folau to explain refusal to kneel

Andrew Reid
·3-min read
Pictured here, Israel Folau decided not to kneel in support of Black Lives Matter.
Israel Folau has been questioned after opting not to join teammates in taking a knee for the BLM movement. Pic: AAP/Getty

Israel Folau is no stranger to courting controversy but the former Wallabies star has been asked to explain his latest contentious move.

Folau refused to join Catalans teammates and opponents in taking a knee to acknowledge the Black Lives Matter movement in Super League’s return on Sunday.

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The former Wallabies fullback’s Dragons side were hammered 34-6 by champions St Helens in the first match since the competition was halted in March because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Premier League matches across Britain have seen players take the knee before kick-off and the Super League decided to adopt a similar approach to raise awareness and show their support for the BLM movement.

For whatever reason Folau decided not to participate in the pre-game gesture, prompting rugby league great Martin Offiah to demand a 'please explain'.

“It shows you that life is not black and white. He’s a complex, controversial character, Israel,” Offiah told Sky Sports.

“Why he didn’t take the knee? We’ll only know if we go and ask him after the game. It’s interesting to see he stood up.

“You need to put a microphone in front of Israel and get him to speak for himself.

Coach defends Folau’s decision to stand

The Great Britain legend referenced Folau's controversial comments on homosexuality and wondered what the Aussie's reasoning would be for refusing to kneel.

“It’s a complex issue as I say I don’t believe... even with Israel’s first comments which brought him into world notoriety he said he did it from a point of love and his own understanding.

“So it would just be interesting to understand what that point is because we're here in the dark, and I don’t think [Catalans coach] Steve McNamara knows.”

Folau copped a barrage of criticism from viewers on social media.

Catalans coach Steve McNamara defended Folau’s decision not to kneel, however, and said he was entitled to make a personal choice.

“As a group of players and coaching staff, we spoke about it in depth and as a club we are completely against racism and all for equal opportunity,” McNamara said.

“But there were some players and staff who made the decision not to take the knee.

“That was based on personal choice, they have their own reasons for doing that, and we decided we would respect anyone's personal choice on the matter.”

with agencies