Nothing but respect between Folau, Pocock

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Israel Folau has nothing but respect for Wallabies teammate David Pocock, despite the pair having very different views on the world outside of rugby.

Pocock has long been a vocal advocate for marriage equality, he and his partner Emma taking a stand by refusing to tie the knot until same sex marriage was made legal in Australia.

Folau, in contrast, has caused plenty of controversy this year with a series of social media posts condemning gay people.

The pair sat down for a one-on-one chat when the Wallabies briefly met on the Gold Coast last month, a conversation which left Folau with nothing but respect for the star flanker.

"We're both grown men and we talk about things openly," Folau said.

"I respect Poey for being open about that and it doesn't change the way I feel about him as a teammate.Israel Folau has spoken about his relationship with David Pocock. Photo: Getty Images"We just had an open chat about our different beliefs.

"Like I said, we respect each other and it doesn't change the way we feel about each other.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinions and what they believe - it's nothing personal against them and we both understand that.

"I think it's a great thing that we were open to each other and it's going to be the same for the next three weeks.

"It won't change anything when we step out on the field - I'll be there to cover him and so will he - we're 100 percent behind each other."

Folau also has no issue addressing any other member of the Wallabies squad that has questions regarding his faith.

"It's something that I live by and it drives me each day," he said.

"It helps me personally when I go out onto the footy field and play the game so I'm more than happy to openly talk about it to anyone that wants to speak about it.

"Even in front of the group, it's no problem for me.

"There's a whole lot of respect in the team and that's what I like about the team.

"We're in it together as one so we all respect each other and we're here to try for the one job we're trying to achieve."

The off field controversy has had no effect whatsoever on the star fullback, who, at 29, is arguably in career best form.

"With all that stuff off the field, it's who I am," he said.

"That's where my identity lies as a person so when I step out onto the footy field it's the same thing.

"It hasn't changed anything for me in terms of footy and all that, I still want to get the job done for the team and do the best that I can."

Doing the best he can will likely involve more cross field kicks from Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale, having dominated in the air once more against the Reds.

"It's planned if we're playing off set piece, off lineout but in general phase play we're always talking, being open about seeing an opportunity and just hitting it," he said.

"Hopefully we can exploit that a bit more in the next few weeks."

The Wallabies take on Ireland in a three-Test June Series, kicking off on Saturday June 9 at 8pm AEST. Buy tickets here.