A star Wallabies rugby player has revealed that Christian squad members were muzzled from speaking out in support of Israel Folau.
Fijian-born Samu Kerevi admitted he broke the gag order and actually ‘liked’ the controversial social media post which led to Folau’s expulsion from the sport in Australia.
“Me liking a post, it just turned from zero to 100 real quick. Being called a ‘bigot’ and stuff, and people saying ‘I’ll see you in hell’,” he said.
Kerevi was speaking to the makers of an ABC TV documentary on the Israel Folau saga which was due to screen late last year, but was suddenly withdrawn.
It’s likely to be broadcast this year.
Folau lost his contract over the social media post while receiving a multi-million dollar payout.
“We got told from our media teams not to say anything about supporting Izzy or saying anything at all,” Kerevi explained in the two-part documentary simply titled Folau.
“But it was everyone that didn’t support him that was all over the news. They were to be interviewed. They were allowed to say that they don’t support the message.”
He believed that represented a case of serious double standards.
“That’s what annoyed us and made us angry. It’s like ‘Hey, you’re allowing one side of the story to be spoken about and to be supported, but not the other’. How come they’re allowed to speak, and we’re not?”
“For most of us boys, it started turning to anger because there were so many things going on in rugby. People were going to court or whatever, and they’re not getting sacked,” Kerevi observed.
“If someone does domestic violence, then he is OK to play. But someone that is posting something that is in the Bible, that’s not play on. That’s balance. I just didn’t understand at the time and I didn’t want to accept. I was ready to go to battle for my faith and stand up for my beliefs,” The Sydney Morning Herald quoted him as saying.
Kerevi says he sees both sides of the debate because he has gay family members.
Rugby Australia has previously denied silencing players but has not commented on the claims.
The Daily Telegraph reports Kerevi also revealed a deep split in the Wallabies squad after Rugby Australia added a rainbow to its logo five years ago.
It symbolised support for the same-sex marriage plebiscite but Kerevi said he and other Christian members were never consulted about their beliefs.
“No one came up to us and asked us if we supported it,” he said.
“You know, no one asked us our opinion on it. They just said, you know, Rugby Australia supports gay marriage.”