Folau "enjoyed" debate on same sex marriage stance

International
by Sam Phillips

The risk of sounding crazy aside, Israel Folau says he has "enjoyed" the debate regarding his controversial views on gay marriage.

Folau came under serious fire for several homophobic Instagram and Twitter posts earlier this year that included writing God's plan for gay people was Hell unless they repented their 'sins'.

The posts followed similar views in September 2017 in which he voiced his disagreement with Australia's move to legalise same sex marriage.

At the peak of the furore he was called into Rugby Australia headquarters to discuss the situation with CEO Raelene Castle and while the heat he was under may have concerned some, the 29-year-old relished the conversation.

"It’s a bit of a rollercoaster year, for me, more so off the field with what’s been happening," Folau said in Tokyo on Wednesday.

"But to be quite honest, it might sound a bit crazy, I kind of really enjoyed what was happening off the field.

"Not that it happened on purpose, but my identity is based around my faith in god.

"And I truly believe that from deep down inside, what was happening off the field, even though it was challenging and it was hard, it was actually moulding me into the person in becoming stronger and actually taught me a lot of things that I needed to learn, and I’m still learning now.Folau is all smiles in Tokyo. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"Obviously a lot of people will say negative things about what was happening, but it taught me to actually love and forgive them for obviously not agreeing and that’s something that I’ve learnt to take on."

Folau's stance on the matter has not budged.

Even if some of his teammates, namely superstar flanker David Pocock, strongly disagree with his views.

"I totally understand everyone else's view," Folau said.

"They are obviously different to mine and I respect that.

"It doesn't change how I look at that person.

"What I don't want to do is compromise what I believe in and being true to my faith in God.

"I'm always going to follow that even though probably a lot of people won't agree with that.

"That's fine. I'll still respect them and love everyone else for who they are.

"In terms of being true to what I believe in that won't change."Folau has committed to a fresh four year deal with Rugby Australia. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyFolau's religious views are akin to his tattoos in the sense that they are likely to be with him for life.

Unfortunately for the Wallabies' new outside centre that's where the similarities between the two begin and end.

While he will always stand by his beliefs on homosexuality he regrets ever getting inked in the first place.

"To be honest, if I have my time again I probably wouldn’t have got any tattoos and that comes back to, again, my faith.

"That’s something I came across afterwards.

"But, like I said, I can’t change the past."

While he may regret the decision removal is not an option and that's because the 29-year-old believes his change has been all internal rather than external.

"I think the change, in terms of faith, for me is from the inside out and anything I’ve done in the past, I know that it’s all gone now," he said.

"If I had my time over I probably wouldn’t have got any tattoos.

"In saying that, I’m just grateful for where I’m at now and where I’ve come from."

The Wallabies face the All Blacks in Yokohama on Saturday, kicking off at 5:35pm AEDT, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten and RUGBY.com.au radio.