Rugby - Kerevi says under 'no pressure' over faith despite Folau row

by Reuters
Thursday, 2 May 2019 08:30 GMT
Samu Kerevi eased fears that Australian players of Pacific Island heritage would revolt if Israel Folau's contract is terminated

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Wallabies back Samu Kerevi said he felt under no pressure to keep quiet about his Christian faith as he moved to ease fears of a revolt by players with Pacific Island heritage over the Israel Folau affair on Thursday.

Folau looks set to have his Rugby Australia contract torn up after Saturday’s code of conduct hearing into a social media post which said that gay people and others he considered “sinners” were destined for “hell” if they did not “repent”.

Kerevi is also a committed Christian and said in a social media post on Wednesday that he had not apologised for his “faith” after making religious comments in the wake of a win for his Queensland Reds in South Africa over the Easter weekend.

The Fiji-born centre, who was one of several Pasifika athletes to “like” Folau’s original post, blamed a media report for linking his religious comments with the Folau saga and said he would continue to talk about his faith.

“It’s all been dealt with, I don’t want to talk about it too much. Everything is all good from my end, no pressures at all,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

“People can come up to me personally and talk about my faith and beliefs and I’ll stand by it, every day of the week.”

“100 per cent, I feel comfortable expressing (my faith). I’ll do it this weekend, I’ll do it every weekend ... that’s who I am and footy is what I do. I’ve got a team to lead and that’s what I want to do this week.”

The Reds captain, who will lead the 2011 Super Rugby champions out against Japan’s Sunwolves in Brisbane on Friday, also said there was no problem with his Tongan-born team mate Taniela Tupou.

The Wallabies and Reds prop reacted to reports that Kerevi had been pressured to apologise for his comments by posting a social media message saying all Pacific Islander players “might as well” be sacked for their Christian beliefs.

“Nella is fine. People have just taken what he said in the wrong way. He’s an emotional fellow and he’s just having my back,” Kerevi added.

“I love that about him. For me, I’d rather have him do his talking on the field.”

The Folau hearing on Saturday looks like being a formality, with Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Waratahs already publicly committed to terminating the lucrative contract of their best-known player, who has Tongan heritage.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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