Israel Folau: Australia head coach Michael Cheika received threats

Michael Cheika leaves Israel Folau's code of conduct hearing
Cheika attended Folau's code of conduct hearing in May

Australia head coach Michael Cheika says he received threats amid the fallout from Israel Folau's controversial social media post.

The 30-year-old devout Christian had his contract terminated by Rugby Australia in April for writing "hell awaits" gay people.

Full-back Folau, who won 73 caps, is now suing the governing body, arguing his contract was unlawfully ended.

"People were saying all sorts of stuff," Cheika said.

"Just threats I was getting; people on the street, some to my face, a couple at some games. It was just crazy stuff."

Folau - who is seeking £5.6m (AU $10m) in compensation, an apology and a return to the national side - escaped punishment for similar anti-gay comments last year.

Cheika, whose side start their Rugby World Cup campaign against Fiji next Saturday in Japan, said the governing body had to act in the team's best interests.

Before Folau's sacking in April, Cheika previously said he "wouldn't be able to" select him, adding "the team is king".

"I'm not disappointed in the individual [Folau] because if that's what he believes, and that's where his passion is, I will never tell someone to hide it," he added in the Sydney Morning Herald.

"I might not agree with everyone, but I'd never want someone to not say what they feel. I'm no person to judge.

"The other disappointing part is that we lost one of our best players; a guy who I helped come back. I wouldn't say I'm responsible for what's happened. It's just life. But I had to do what was needed for the team."

Cheika denied claims the Wallabies camp was split following Folau's sacking but revealed team meetings were held in order to move forward.

"Of course, we had to address it," he said. "We spoke about it in small groups, then one on one, and then in the team environment together, so everyone was clear on what was going on.

"Then we got on with business, which is representing Australia in footy. That's what we're here to do."

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