Rugby Union player Israel Folau has looked to the heavens for assistance to win The Frownlow Medal in what has become the toughest year ever to claim the prestigious award.
Folau asked the almighty to raise him above a depraved bunch of drunks, fornicators, exhibitionists and alleged rapists who have also been nominated for the most sought-after award in Australian sport.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015 and code-swapper Karmichael Hunt was the most recent recipient.
Folau refused to remove a homophobic tweet and when his contract was subsequently torn up by Rugby Australia, he earned favouritism for Frownlow honours. However, he faces tough opposition.
Challenging the controversial tweet are multiple allegations of violence against women. Rugby League players Jarryd Hayne and Jack de Belin are still involved in court cases concerning allegations of sexual assault, while Zane Musgrove was kicked out of the NRL for a case of violence against women. His partner in crime on that occasion, Liam Coleman, also remains in the running for the Frownlow.
Ben Barba, meanwhile, was accused of assaulting his partner and the mother of his children, and even though the allegations were dropped, they cost him his contract with the Cowboys and he is no longer playing in the NRL.
Dylan Walker was favoured to win, until he was found not guilty of assaulting his partner, which means that the front runner at this stage of the season is another Cowboys player, Scott Bolton.
Bolton pleaded guilty to assaulting a woman in a nightclub and, as a result, remains the only footballer to have been awarded a Wife Beater Tattoo, and is the player with the strongest claim to The Frownlow Medal.
Fellow NRL players have put their hands up. Micheal Chee Kam and Tautau Moga clashed with ride share drivers, and Jaeman Salmon was found guilty of driving offences. Meanwhile, Dylan Napa, Tyrone May, Tyrone Phillips and Coleman all appeared in lewd sex tapes on the internet.
The Folau tweet was ‘liked’ by in a host of fellow players from AFL, Super Rugby and the NRL, who also received nominations, while a number of AFL players earned nominations for alcohol-related incidents.
Ken Ilso is the lone nominee for the A-League, which yet again failed to match the other football codes in the race for The Frownlow Medal.