The racism storm surrounding the NSW Origin camp has taken a new twist with the revelation Timana Tahu walked out on the team because of remarks Andrew Johns made about Israel Folau as well as Greg Inglis.Tahu, who left the NSW camp at Kingscliff on Friday, released a video statement late yesterday addressing his reasons for pulling out of Origin II at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night.It had been thought that assistant coach Johns’s description of Queensland centre Inglis as a ”black c—” at a team gathering last Wednesday night was the sole catalyst for his departure. However, Tahu said disparaging comments of a racist nature had not only been directed at Inglis, who is Aboriginal.”This has been a very traumatic and hurtful time for me and my family and I want to thank everybody for the support I have received,” Tahu said from Newcastle, where he has been staying with his family since leaving the camp.”Leaving Origin was a really big decision for me and I’d like to clarify that it was not just one racial comment directed at one individual that offended me. The remarks were directed at various races and the situation I encountered was totally unacceptable.”It is understood Johns also referred to AFL-bound Maroons winger Folau, who is Polynesian, in a negative racial tone although it was last night unclear exactly what words he used. Johns left the NSW camp on Saturday night after issuing a joint statement with Tahu.”I believe I am a role model for children and I did this to show my kids this type of behaviour is wrong,” Tahu said yesterday. ”This isn’t about me or Andrew Johns.”It’s about arresting racism and standing up for my beliefs. I want to move on now and I know something positive will come from this.” Johns’s role as a coaching consultant at Parramatta, Tahu’s club, is set to be reviewed next week because of his remarks while News Ltd, which pays him to write columns, has said it will discuss its association with the former Blues halfback.Another employer, Channel Nine, has said it has accepted his apology.Johns’s manager, John Fordham, issued a statement last night.”In view of Andrew Johns having previously apologised sincerely and unreservedly for his inappropriate and offending remarks we see no need to comment further,” Fordham said.Tahu, who was replaced in the Blues line-up by Canberra’s Joel Monaghan, will re-join his Parramatta teammates at Eels training tomorrow.Once back in Sydney, the dual international may have an opportunity to speak with NSWRL and ARL supremo Geoff Carr, who has been unsuccessful in his attempts to contact Tahu since the furore erupted at the weekend.”My view is if he’s got issues with the game he simply needs to speak to me,” Carr said.”I’ve made that invitation clear…I’ve been trying to get a hold of him.”Meanwhile, Queensland hooker Cameron Smith yesterday played down suggestions of widespread racism in the game.A teammate of Inglis at club, interstate and international level, Smith said he supported Tahu’s stance but said calls by former NRL star and boxing world champion Anthony Mundine for other indigenous players to withdraw were ”a bit extreme”.”It comes down to the individual and how they feel. Timana obviously felt very strongly which is why he left,” Smith said.”I think it would hurt the game if all the indigenous boys left and it would hurt the fans.”I don’t think Greg’s ever thought he had to leave because Timana did.”Timana felt very strongly about it and obviously we support him, not because he’s left the NSW camp or disrupted their Origin. I think Greg would like to go out on Wednesday night and have a strong game and show he can get past these issues and that he’s got a strong character.”
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