Former Wallaby Israel Folau is making moves to take Rugby Australia to court over his dismissal. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images
Former Wallaby Israel Folau is making moves to take Rugby Australia to court over his dismissal. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

Folau moves towards court showdown

ISRAEL Folau has reportedly turned to high-profile workplace relations lawyer Stuart Wood QC, as he considers taking his stoush with Rugby Australia to the courts.

According to a Fairfax report, Folau is keen to engage the Melbourne-based silk, who has built a reputation for representing individuals in unlawful termination cases where free speech is a central issue.

A Folau spokesman confirmed to Fairfax that Folau and Wood were in talks, but that the barrister had not yet been "engaged" by the embattled superstar.

The Folau camp are still considering their next steps in the legal battle.

Folau could challenge Rugby Australia in the Supreme Court over his high-level breach of contract.

His other avenue of appeal could be to take up the case with the Fair Work Commission, lodging a complaint for unlawful dismissal on religious grounds. The 30-year-old rugby star has until June 10 to begin that process.

If the two parties cannot agree a settlement - something RA will certainly seek to do, to avoid the saga further damaging the code's reputation - the Federal Court looms as a potential battleground.

Stuart Wood QC (left) has taken on high-profile unfair dismissal cases, including representing climate scientist Peter Ridd (right) in the Federal Court in Brisbane.
Stuart Wood QC (left) has taken on high-profile unfair dismissal cases, including representing climate scientist Peter Ridd (right) in the Federal Court in Brisbane.

Folau has stated an appeal through Rugby Australia's internal channels is not a viable option, saying he fears unfair treatment through his appeal process.

"My decision not to commence Rugby Australia's appeal process is in no way an acceptance of the judicial panel's findings," Folau said in a Monday statement.

"I simply do not have confidence in Rugby Australia's ability to treat me fairly or lawfully throughout this process."

On Tuesday, the Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA) promised a review into players expressing their beliefs, seeking clear guidelines for players to avoid a similar situation in the future.

"RUPA notes that Rugby AU has not yet provided any clear or specific parameters to the professional playing group specifying how it expects individual professional players to express their faith and beliefs in a manner acceptable to Rugby AU," a RUPA statement read.

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle addresses the media on the Folau situation. Picture:  Don Arnold/Getty Images
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle addresses the media on the Folau situation. Picture: Don Arnold/Getty Images

"To address this, RUPA will immediately establish and undertake an expression of faith and beliefs review alongside its players, incorporating advice from those with and without strong religious beliefs, with an aim to hold a first meeting of the review committee following the conclusion of the Super Rugby and World Rugby Sevens Series seasons."

RA boss Raelene Castle offered her support to the review, saying: "We look forward to working with RUPA to fully understand their plans for the review and how Rugby Australia can support it."

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