Israel Folau’s wife brushes off husband’s career crisis
Maria Folau won't let her husband Israel's battle to save his Australian rugby career derail her own push for success, the coach charged with stopping her this weekend says.
Israel Folau will face a Rugby Australia code of conduct hearing on Saturday to try and stop his multimillion-dollar contract being torn up after posting inflammatory social media messages claiming homosexuals were going to hell.
Just 24 hours later his wife will take to the netball court with the Adelaide Thunderbirds as they take on the NSW Swifts at Olympic Park.
Swifts coach Briony Akle warned Folau would "turn it on" and the saga engulfing her husband "might even motivate her" in the Super Netball clash.
"Maria will be a force on Sunday no matter what happens on Saturday,'' Akle said. "She will turn out. She will turn it on. It might even motivate her."
While Maria has not publicly expressed the same views as her husband, she too is deeply religious and often posts bible passages to social media.
She hasn't distanced herself from her husband's stance and, in the aftermath to a homophobic post from the Wallabies star husband a year ago, Maria wrote in Instagram: "Stand with God no matter what … Don't be afraid to stand up for the truth, even if that means you will be standing alone."
Israel's latest social media rant that "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators" will go to hell unless they repent has Rugby Australia ready to terminate his contract following the code of conduct hearing which starts on Saturday.
Maria Folau, a New Zealand international, made her Super Netball with Adelaide last weekend.
"I think she will play 60 great minutes," Akle said.
"She will compartmentalise. She's a professional.''
She hasn't faced any hostility in the wake of her husband's stance, from fans or the netball hierarchy.
"We are an inclusive sport which means that anyone, regardless of gender, religious belief, age, race or sexual orientation, should experience an environment that allows them to participate in without discrimination," Netball South Australia chief executive Bronwyn Klei said.
Akle said she doesn't expect to see any hostility from the crowd come Sunday.
"There won't be any bad reception, not inside the stadium,'' she said.
"They will be there to watch netball.''
Akle is confident her side will be able to the accurate shooting of Folau, forward partner Sasha Glasgow and standout defender Shamera Sterling.
"I think we can match them in every area of the court.''
The Swifts have never lost a game to the Thunderbirds in Super Netball.
The Thunderbirds ended a 27-game losing streak dating back to early 2017 with their one-goal defeat of West Coast Fever last Sunday in their Super Netball opener.
Folau shot below her usual accuracy (24/31, 77.4 per cent) but still played a major role in the win.
While the Swifts play at home, the Giants are on the road in round two against the Melbourne Vixens on Sunday.