Israel Folau increases compensation claim

Former Australia and Waratahs utility back Israel Folau’s compensation claim against Rugby Australia has been increased to AUS$14 million, factoring in the belief that he could have been made Wallabies captain in the future.

Folau’s AUS$14 million figure – up from AUS$10 million originally – came in an amended statement of claim in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne, where the 30-year-old is suing Rugby Australia over the termination of his contract in May.

After an independent Code of Conduct tribunal panel ruled he’d made a “high-level” contract breach for repeated anti-gay social media posts, Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia.

Folau claims the termination was unlawful and is seeking substantial damages, based on his claims of the lost earnings in not only the four years left on his contract, but in subsequent contracts overseas and in post-rugby life as well.

Folau’s “loss and damage” claim states he would have earned AUS$4.2 million in base salary between 2019 and 2022, another $450,000 in Test match payments, AUS$300,000 in guaranteed sponsorship revenue and another AUS$300,000 from “Lost Israel Folau branded kids’ camp payments”. Four camps per year were part of his contract, the claim states.

Folau also claims he could have earned up to AUS$4.5 million “following the end of his international career with the Wallabies”, stretching out to as far as 2026, when Folau will be 36.

Sacked Wallabies star Israel Folau has claimed he has lost $14 million and the chance to have captained the Australian side as a result of his sacking by Rugby Australia

— The Sydney Morning Herald (@smh) November 27, 2019

The former dual international also claims he could have reaped “career monetary benefits” of up to AUS$50,000 a year for the next year 15-25 years, based on his playing record and “possible captainship of a trophy-winning Wallabies team” in the future, and having helped the Wallabies to “a superior performance at the 2019 Rugby World Cup by the Wallabies than what was achieved without Mr Folau.”

Weighing against Folau’s claim he was a chance to become Wallabies captain is the fact the current Test skipper, Michael Hooper, is on a five-year contract through to the end of 2023, and that there is no record of Folau having ever captained a team, or been vice-captain, in any of the three professional codes he has played; rugby league, AFL and rugby union.

Folau is also seeking to have the ruling of Code of Conduct panel declared void, based on one of the panel members, Kate Eastman SC, having not recused herself due to “bias” of her having once appeared for Rugby Australia, and with her record of being an advocate for gay and lesbian rights, and diversity and inclusion in the legal world.

Rugby Australia and Folau are due to argue the matter in the Federal Circuit Court in the new year but the parties had a discovery hearing in the Melbourne court on Wednesday morning.

Folau was widely criticised last week when he claimed in a sermon at his church that the deadly bushfires across Australia were God’s punishment for permitting same-sex marriage and gender choice.

Prime Minister Scott Morrisson said Folau’s comments were “appalling” and supporter Alan Jones told Folau to “button up”.