Israel Folau has reportedly turned to high-profile workplace relations lawyer, Stuart Wood QC, as he considers taking his stoush with Rugby Australia to the courts.
According to a Fairfax report, Folau is keen to engage the Melbourne-based silk who has built a reputation for representing individuals in unlawful termination cases where free speech is a central issue.
A Folau spokesman confirmed to Fairfax that Folau and Wood were in talks, but that the barrister had not yet been “engaged” by the embattled superstar.
The Folau camp are still considering their next steps in the legal battle. Folau could challenge Rugby Australia in the Supreme Court over his high-level breach of contract.
His other avenue of appeal could be to take up the case with the Fair Work Commission, lodging a complaint for unlawful dismissal on religious grounds. The 30-year-old rugby star has until June 10 to begin that process.
If the two parties cannot agree a settlement — something RA will certainly seek to avoid the saga further damaging the code’s reputation — the Federal Court looms as a potential battleground.
Folau has stated an appeal through Rugby Australia’s internal channels was not a viable option, saying he harboured concern over unfair treatment through his appeal process.
“My decision not to commence Rugby Australia’s appeal process is in no way an acceptance of the judicial panel’s findings,” Folau claimed in a Monday statement.
“I simply do not have confidence in Rugby Australia’s ability to treat me fairly or lawfully throughout this process.”
“RUPA notes that Rugby AU has not yet provided any clear or specific parameters to the professional playing group specifying how it expects individual professional players to express their faith and beliefs in a manner acceptable to Rugby AU,” a RUPA statement read.