Waiting continues: Folau verdict delayed another day

Israel Folau's future will not be known until Friday after the independent panel charged with deciding his fate delayed their decision a further 24 hours.

An announcement was widely expected on Thursday but it is understood the panel notified Rugby Australia this morning that they would not have a decision until Friday.

A decision on Israel Folau's future has been delayed by 24 hours. Picture: AP

A decision on Israel Folau's future has been delayed by 24 hours. Picture: AP

The reason for the delay is unknown, but there has been no hard deadline for the group beyond a code of conduct stipulation that a decision be made and communicated "as soon as practicable".

The panel, made up of Kate Eastman SC, John West QC and John Boultbee, found Folau guilty of a high level breach of RA's code of conduct on May 7.

The decision left on the table every option for sanction, including termination of contract, which RA was seeking. The panel may also find that while his conduct does not warrant termination, a lengthy suspension or fine or both could be applied.

Either way, after striking an accord with Folau after his first round of anti-gay social media comments last year, this time RA have demonstrated their desire to cut ties with him and appear set to appeal anything less than the termination of his contract.

Folau is expected to appeal such a decision, potentially leaving the parties with an out-of-court settlement as their only option to avoid a protracted and costly battle in the courts.

It will end one of the most mutually beneficial partnerships in the history of Australian rugby, as Folau's star rose even further internationally as a 73-Test Wallaby and the Waratahs and Australia benefited richly from his on-field talents and off-field appeal.

He was a key part of the Waratahs' 2014 Super Rugby title win and only this season became the all-time leading try-scorer in Super Rugby.

After making his Test debut on the wing in Australia's 2013 series against the British and Irish Lions, he became a permanent fixture in the Wallabies back line under Robbie Deans, Ewen McKenzie and then Michael Cheika.

Even after the storm of his first anti-gay comments last year, RA regarded him as their most popular athlete among children and young people, with a near-universal recognition across all Australian codes enjoyed by no other player that currently wears the gold jersey.

He is also one of the Wallabies' biggest drawcards internationally, with only David Pocock rivalling him as a must-watch player among foreign crowds.

Notwithstanding a breakout first two seasons for Australia in 2013 and 2014, perhaps captured best in an epic match-up with British and Irish Lions winger George North, Folau has never gone on to dominate the Test landscape in the same way as he did Super Rugby.

But his international class has never been in doubt, nor his mastery of the high ball, a gift and skill he deployed across rugby league and AFL before applying it in rugby to devastating effect for NSW and Australia.

- SMH/The Age

This story Waiting continues: Folau verdict delayed another day first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.