McNamara defends Folau's choice not to take a knee for Black Lives Matter

By Sports Desk August 02, 2020

Steve McNamara defended Israel Folau's personal choice after the controversial rugby star elected not to take a knee before Catalans Dragons' 34-6 Super League defeat to St Helens.

In keeping with displays of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement across the sporting world over recent months, players on both sides knelt before the UK's premier rugby league competition resumed.

The exception was Folau, leaving Catalans coach McNamara to address the Australia's refusal to take part in the gesture, which has been widely interpreted as a means of displaying a united front against and solidarity with the victims of police brutality.

"As a club and a group of players and coaching staff we spoke about it in depth," McNamara said.

"As a whole club we are completely against racism, we are completely for equal opportunity but there were some players and staff who made a decision not to the knee and that was based on their personal choice.

"As a group we decided we would respect anybody's personal choice in and around this matter. I think you've seen in some other sports that situation happening and those individuals have their own reasons for doing that."

Folau returned to rugby league with Catalans in January after Rugby Australia sacked him for posting homophobic slurs on his social media accounts.

Former Great Britain and England international Leon Pryce, who is himself of Jamaican descent, replied to a tweet reporting Folau's actions at Headingley to show support.

Pryce said Folau's decision was "absolutely fine" and added: " Nobody should feel like they are forced to do anything they are not comfortable with."

There was nothing so notable about the efforts of Folau or his team-mates on the field as Saints ran out convincing winners.

Lachlan Coote was the star of the show, crossing in each half and landing five conversions to end with an 18-point haul.

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