Former rugby league star Willie Mason has defended Israel Folau’s potential return to the NRL, claiming there are much worse people currently playing in the league.
The St. George Illawarra Dragons have confirmed their interest in signing Folau but are currently waiting on approval from the league to bring the controversial former Wallaby back to the NRL.
The move has been met with considerable amounts of criticism. Ian Roberts, the first openly gay rugby league player, told the Sydney Morning Herald that he couldn’t understand why the club would want to sign Folau.
— NRL (@NRL) February 2, 2021
“At what point did someone at the Dragons think it would be a good idea to invite this s**tstorm into their club?
“And that’s what it will be. You are welcoming this hurricane of offal. I would’ve thought the board and the coach could look at their position in rugby league, because this is about more than winning or losing.
“It’s about the actual fabric of the game. Who thought this was a good idea? It’s mind-blowing.
“People don’t understand the effects of homophobia and the consequences. People in the LGBTIQ community know it because it’s our reality,” Roberts explained.
‘He’s not a bad person’
While Mason, a former Australian rugby league international, says he doesn’t share Folau’s beliefs, he believes the former Wallaby should be allowed to finish his career in the NRL.
“I’ve been very loud about this – there’s some absolute pieces of s**t playing our game, and then we get a bloke who quotes a fictional book and he gets ostracised and can’t play here,” Mason told Sporting News.
“Come on, let’s just chill down a little bit and look at what he’s done. He’s not a bad person.
“I don’t agree with everything he says and I don’t have to. He doesn’t agree with everything I say, and I won’t agree with everything you say. That’s life isn’t it?
“You can’t just sit there and get along all the time. I’m glad he gets another chance and I hope he can finish out his career in the NRL.”
Folau last played in the NRL in 2010 with the Brisbane Broncos, before stints in the AFL with Greater Western Sydney and rugby union with the Waratahs and Wallabies.