Folau preparing for legal battle
ISRAEL Folau is so determined to resume his playing career that he has hired one of Australia's leading barristers and a top commercial law firm to help fast-track his return to the playing field while he decides whether to sue Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW.
While it is widely expected that the code-hopping superstar will take legal action after his $5 million four-year contract was ripped up because of his social media postings, that decision has still not yet been made.
However Folau has told his lawyers that regardless of what happens in the courts, he still wants to play again, believing he is being punished twice, first by losing his contract then secondly by being blocked from playing elsewhere.
"I was disappointed by the way Rugby Australia handled my hearing, and it has been difficult to read stories in the media that are simply untrue," Folau said.
"All I ask is to be treated fairly and by the law. I feel confident in my team's ability to defend and protect my legal rights."
Folau is already tooling up, engaging the services of prominent Melbourne QC Stuart Wood as well as the Macpherson Kelley law firm to investigate all his options before he decides on which course of action to take.
Wood, an industrial relations specialist who was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia earlier this year, will be joined by Macpherson Kelley principal George Haros, who said Folau did not deserve the sack for the social media posts which Rugby Australia deemed as anti-gay but he said were simply expressions of his Christian faith.
"We believe Rugby Australia and the Waratahs have acted unfairly and unlawfully in their treatment of Israel," Mr Haros said.
"Israel has several options available to him at this point, and we are considering his next steps."
The first decision Folau has to make is whether to challenge for unlawful termination under the Fair Work Act. He has until Friday to make up his mind on that because the 21-day deadline to commence action is about to expire.
If he chooses not to, he has other options, including taking the matter to the Federal Court, but the one thing he is sure about is wanting to lace up the boots again.
The Daily Telegraph understands that Folau is desperate to play again and has been working out with a private trainer to keep himself in shape, possibly to return to NRL, even though ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie has poured cold water on the idea.
"Our position on Israel Folau remains the same," Beattie said. "We are an inclusive game with respect for all.
"Israel has social media posts online that go against what our game stands for.
"As it stands, he will not be considered for registration. What Israel chooses to do in relation to his social media posts and his faith is a matter for him."