Former Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu has revealed the Israel Folau saga split their World Cup campaign, with the veteran saying he boycotted a pre-tournament camp.
Kepu, as well as ex-Test centre Samu Kerevi, filed affidavits in November supporting Folau's legal case against Rugby Australia, which was settled out of court in December.
Israel Folau and Sekope Kepu in their Waratahs days.Credit:James Alcock
Folau was sacked after posting on Instagram that hell awaits homosexuals and other sinners who do not repent.
News Corp obtained the documents that show 110-Test forward Kepu was "disappointed" in how the governing body handled the situation.
He said as a Christian and supporter of Folau he felt marginalised by both Rugby Australia and the Waratahs and was pulled from a Super Rugby media opportunity due to fears he might speak in Folau's favour.
Kepu said he warned RA chief executive Raelene Castle the situation would cause division in the Wallabies camp ahead of the World Cup.
Now playing in the UK, Kepu said he didn't attend the Wallabies' training camp in mid-2019, ahead of the World Cup in Japan due to such concerns.
"The Wallabies' next camp after Israel's posts in April 2019 was in around July 2019, before our Rugby Championship matches that year.
"I did not attend the camp. This was because I was so upset about the way in which management had handled Israel's situation that I didn't think it would be a good thing for me to attend," Kepu wrote.
He said he thought during World Cup games that the Wallabies had missed Folau's on-field skills.
"There is no doubt to me that the Wallabies would have gone further in the 2019 Rugby World Cup if Israel had been on the team".
The Wallabies crashed out at the quarter-final stage.
RA chief executive Raelene Castle denied on Wednesday any Wallabies players were gagged from speaking out in support of Folau.
"A lot of work was done by Rugby Australia and the Super Rugby teams to provide open communication on the issue to all players throughout the matter, and when requested, counsel and advice was provided to individuals," Castle said.
"At all times the priority for Rugby Australia and the Super Rugby teams was to support the players.
"We wrote to all players to remind them of their obligations under the code of conduct and our social media policy, but no player was prevented from speaking about the issue, or asked to support Rugby Australia's position regarding Israel in the media."
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