Lobby ramp up effort to get Israel Folau back playing

A petition to get Israel Folau back into the NRL has received over 13,000 signatures this week, helped by a full-page ad taken out in one of Australia’s most respected newspapers.

The Australian Christian Lobby took out the ad this week in The Daily Telegraph in an effort to heap pressure on the NRL, who said no to a return to their league after he left Australian rugby union under a cloud after his explosive sacking and a subsequent court case over a number of disputed social media posts.

On their petition page, the Australian Christian Lobby write: “Israel Folau is a much-loved Australian champion who has been banned from the NRL for once sharing a post on social media that they didn’t like.

“Now, corporate and media voices want to keep him out of the game, even though: the fans want him to play; the clubs want him to play; The players want him to play; and Israel wants to play.

“Why can’t he play?,” the lobby ask on their website. “Those at the top want to punish him forever – even though they allow others to play who have criminal charges and atrocious personal conduct. This double standard is wrong!”

Now back in Brisbane, Folau is currently a free agent across both union and league, and has been the subject of speculation about possibly turning out for Tonga at this year’s Rugby League World Cup in the United Kingdom.

Tonga coach Toutai Kefu revealed earlier this week that the controversial former Wallabies star has expressed interest in returning to rugby union to play for the Pacific Island nation.

“He’s Tongan, he’s a bloody good player – we’re more than happy to have him and accommodate him… We’d have no concerns,” Kefu said about the prospect of the 73-test Australian international playing test rugby for Tonga.

“We all grew up the same way. We all went to Sunday School and then there’s different divisions of religion that we all grew up in. We certainly all support Israel and his views.”