Players and officials from Folau’s Catalans Dragons and their opponents St Helens dropped to one knee in a show of support with the Black Lives Matter movement before their Sunday afternoon game at Headingley.
Except, that is, Folau – who remained standing during the pre-match gesture.
Great Britain legend Martin Offiah, who is of a Nigerian background, said Folau should be given a chance to explain why he didn’t take the knee.
“It shows you that life is not black and white, he’s a complex controversial character, Israel,” Offiah, a 38-cap international, told Sky Sports.
“Why he didn’t take the knee? We’ll only know if we go and ask him after the game. Its interesting to see he stood up.
“You need to put a microphone in front of Israel and get him to speak for himself.
“It’s a complex issue as I say I don’t believe… even with Israel’s first comments which brought him into world notoriety he said he did it from a point of love and his own understanding.
“So it would just be interesting to understand what that point is because were here in the dark, and I don’t think [Catalans coach] Steve McNamara knows.”
McNamara defended Folau after the game, describing his decision as a “personal choice”.
“As a group of players and coaching staff, we spoke about it in depth and as a club we are completely against racism and all for equal opportunity,” McNamara said.
“But there were some players and staff who made the decision not to take the knee. That was based on personal choice, they have their own reasons for doing that, and we decided we would respect anyone’s personal choice on the matter.”
The Super League finally returned to action this weekend after the competition was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Folau signed a one-year contract extension with Catalans last month.
St Helens and Catalans players take the knee before kick-off: but noticeably Israel Folau did NOT join the rest of the players in doing so. Wow. pic.twitter.com/kK0c8tPW7d
— Aaron Bower (@AaronBower) August 2, 2020