Maria Folau blasts NRL pride jersey 'hypocrisy'

Source: AAP

Maria Folau, a former Silver Fern netballer and the wife of former Wallabies and NRL star Israel Folau has taken to social media to blast Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'landys after he said he respected the boycotting Manly players' decision and freedom to religious and cultural differences.

Maria and Israel Folau

V'landys went on to say: "But one thing I take pride in with rugby league is we treat everyone the same. We are all human beings, it doesn't matter your colour, sexual orientation or race. We're all equal."

Israel Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 for posting religiously-motivated homophobic messages on social media, Maria suggested V'landys accepting the stance of the Manly seven was hypocritical.

"We're all human beings at the end of the day ... umm so what's Izzy??....a donkey," Maria wrote on Instagram.

"The hypocrisy (sic) from this man and this organisation @nrl #PeterVlandys What a joke!!!"

V'landys has never officially knocked back an application by an NRL club to register Folau, although he did deliver a scathing assessment of his posted views back in 2019.

"The game is inclusive. Israel's comments are not inclusive," he said.

"With due respect to Israel, what he says, young kids listen to. He is a role model. They act on it.

"And when you're a kid at school and you get bashed up because you're different, I don't think that's a good thing."

Pocock hits out

Independent senator David Pocock has criticised the "devastating" decision of seven Manly players to boycott wearing their club's pride-themed jersey.

The former Wallabies captain acknowledged the Sea Eagles were taking a step forward by wearing the jersey in their NRL match against Sydney Roosters on Thursday night, but said the boycott highlighted how far society still has to move on inclusivity.

"Sport is at its best when it's challenging society to be more inclusive," Pocock told The Conversation.

"We've seen that through history when sport has been courageous ... we can actually create a space that is more inclusive, that people can come and be who they are regardless of the colour of their skin or their sexuality.

David Pocock.

"This is not doing that. (It's) really disappointing and it's going to be devastating for a number of probably mostly young people and some older people who are gay, and love their rugby league, to see players take this sort of stand.

"We're dealing with real people here."

READ MORE: Opinion: Players rejecting the Manly pride jersey are hypocrites

Pocock, who played for the Wallabies 78 times between 2008 and 2019, said the fact LGBTTQIA+ sportsmen remained uncomfortable to address their sexuality across Australia's major football codes showed society had failed those people.

"Statistically you look at all of the contact sport codes in Australia, I don't know of any openly gay players, but statistically they are there," he said.

"Clearly we've got a long way to go in breaking down those prejudices and the homophobia that is in society.

"It shouldn't be up to gay players to put themselves out there and try and push for a more inclusive society, it's on all of us.

"It's on the sports, it's on the teams to create environments where people can be themselves."