Wallabies star Israel Folau leaves a Code of Conduct hearing in Sydney on Tuesday. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP
Wallabies star Israel Folau leaves a Code of Conduct hearing in Sydney on Tuesday. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP

All Black fires shot in Folau war

ALL BLACKS halfback TJ Perenara has addressed some controversial comments around religion in the fallout of the Israel Folau saga.

Last week, Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou claimed all Pacific Islanders "might as well just be sacked" because of their religious beliefs, after teammate Samu Kerevi felt he needed to apologise for "offending" fans after saying "I love Jesus" in an Instagram post on Easter.

The comments came days before Folau's attempt to save his multimillion-dollar career at a Rugby Australia code of conduct hearing after being handed a high-level breach for social media posts where he said "hell awaited homosexuals."

"Seriously," Tupou's post began.

"Might as well sack me and all the other Pacific Islands rugby players around the world because we have the same Christian beliefs.

"I will never apologise for my faith and what I believe in, religion had [sic] got nothing to do with rugby anyways #TYJ".

Addressing the comments on Radio Sport, Perenara said he felt it was wrong for Tupou to speak for all Maori and Pacific Island players in the game.

Taniela Tupou (middle) said he’d
Taniela Tupou (middle) said he’d "never apologise for my faith". Picture: Jono Searle/Getty Images

"For him to make a statement for everyone, I don't think that's right," he told Jim Kayes on Radio Sport.

"He can certainly make his own statement if that's how he feels, but you can't paint a brush over every single Maori or Pacific Islander who has any religious beliefs.

"You can't speak for everyone."

Folau's career in green and gold may well be over, with Rugby Australia issuing him a high-level breach notice - the only option that can lead to termination.

But Perenara, who was attending the Wellington International Pride Parade on Saturday with his wife, agreed the saga needed to end sooner rather than later for the sake of the game and the young players who were being influenced by the negative messages.

"It's obviously a tender subject for a lot of people and I just feel for especially the young people that get influenced by those words and who are trying to figure themselves out at the moment," he said.

"As leaders in our community, we need to empower those people and let them know that it's okay to be who you are, it's okay to feel the way you feel and that being you is okay.

"That's the message that we should be sending, that love and that unity and empowering people is what we should be doing."

News Corp Australia

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