Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says ‘respect is king’ when it comes to political discussions, dismissing the idea that Israel Folau’s same sex marriage tweet could divide the team.
Folau lit up Twitter when he posted his personal view on the issue on Wednesday, with his opposition to same-sex marriage coming a day after public support from Wallabies captain Michael Hooper and the ARU on the matter.
His Test teammate David Pocock, currently playing in Japan as part of a year-long sabbatical, posted his support of marriage equality not long after, but Cheika said differing views were not the same as a rift in the team.
“Respect is king,” he said.
“A lot of people have different opinions about lots of things, both in our team (and in Australia),” he said.
“I think our team's reflective of Australia and one of the great things about Australia is that you can say what you feel and you can have respect given to you and pay respect to others.”
Cheika said none of those issues would derail or distract the team heading into a vital Rugby Championship match against Argentina on Saturday night.
“Definitely within our team and the team culture this year, especially in this last eight weeks since we've come back and attacked the Rugby Championship, there's been a real camaraderie, a real respect and part of us about players coming from all different places and being welcome in that jersey, that's king to us.
“It wouldn't be news if it wasn't made news and internally we've got 100 per cent respect for everyone's opinions on all matters.”
Cheika said the high-profile fullback would likely have known the backlash he was likely to receive on the issue, but ultimately that wouldn’t distract him from his ultimate goal on the field.
“You'd have to think that he would know that that was going to happen and he'd be ready for that,” he said.
“It's an opinion and it's his opinion and that's the way we operate is with this question being asked or any question being asked is to respect people's opinions."