Folau believes God put him on Wallabies path
August 16, 2014
Wallabies superstar Folau believes it was God who opened the door to rugby © Getty Images
He's Australia's code-hopping superstar and one of the biggest names in rugby around the world, but Wallabies star Israel Folau believes a broken ankle in 2009 was a message from God to to teach him a lesson about his boozy weekends and random one-night stands with women.
One of the biggest names in NRL at the time, Folau believes God took away NRL to toil away for two years in the AFL to humble him, and only when Folau had reconnected with God, did He open the door to rugby, in which he has become one of the biggest names and now stands as the man to end 12 years of Australian heartbreak by leading the Wallabies to victory over the All Blacks in tonight's Bledisloe Cup opener.
Why is Kurtley Beale at No. 10?%]
"I want to advertise who Jesus Christ is, which is the thing that means most to me," the Wallaby fullback told The Daily Telegraph. "I know it's got nothing to do with footy, but that's what drives me every single day. Everything is not always about footy, it's about me as a person generally, wanting to be that person that I was called to be. A lot of people don't or wouldn't understand what I'm saying, but that's what really drives me."
Once a boozy superstar and able to party like the best of them during his time in the NRL, Folau admitted he "had lost track" and that breaking his ankle against the Warriors in 2009 was God's punishment.
"There was a time there where I was playing at the Broncos where I was really going out a lot and drinking a lot," he said. "There was one particular time, in 2009, a period where I was doing that for a couple of months, drinking a lot from week to week. Then we were playing against the Warriors, it was a Friday night game, and I had planned to go out on the weekend from Saturday to Sunday, just getting plastered.
"I broke my ankle in that game. When I got to the change-room, I knew then that was punishment, God wanted to slow me up on the things I was doing. That experience stands out for me. When I broke my ankle I knew God was trying to teach me something. I had lost track, that was due to alcohol, going out on weekends, hooking up with girls. The morals I was taught were totally opposite.
Folau admitted that he spent almost every weekend drinking while at the Broncos © Getty Images
"I fell into the culture of the way professional athletes live. I was meant to go through that to realise what my identity is, and that is in Christ. Not to get sucked into what the world wants, but to believe in what is internal."
But Folau faced several challenges trying to change his identity while within a culture of booze and sleeping-around and Folau believes his time in AFL was God putting him onto a new path and allowed him to spiritually develop.
"It's very challenging when it's only you that has that within the team culture," Folau told The Daily Telegraph. "I'm blessed to say now that it was all part of the journey. God changed my path. League was everything to me, I put that in front of God, and He took me away from that to go to AFL. This is what I truly believe; God used AFL, which was something different for me, to start all over again.
"When a person struggles, they turn to something they know will help them. For me, God used that to humble me, and make me think 'God is first, not the sport'. A lot of people would deem the AFL tenure as a failure, but spiritually it allowed me develop in the way God wanted.
"That has led me to this path with rugby. I wouldn't have seen this door open, but the things that have happened in the last 18 months were already written down in God's book, and I see that."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton