Old friends of Israel Folau claim they are struggling to recognise the rebranded star.

Folau and his new entourage – which The Australian newspaper labelled "the merry band of preachers, spinmeisters, lawyers and advisers" – is causing the former Wallaby to grow increasingly distant from the people he used to rub shoulders with, according to two of his friends and rugby associates.

In an article by The Australian, a former rugby associate of Folau said the statements issued by Folau and his team lately does not "sound like the Izzy I know".

The anonymous associate also said his interviews with broadcaster Alan Jones were "heavily scripted".


Another former close friend and rugby associate said Folau, who he described as a "gentle, simple man", is becoming increasingly influenced by a Melbourne PR outfit, Civic Reputation.

He pointed to Folau's "surreal" tweet last weekend when Folau supported ABC's Drum presenter Julia Baird's call for an end to the "anonymous online attacks" directed at comedian Magda Szubanksi, who was critical of Folau, as an example of how the disgraced former Wallaby has acted out of character.

"Izzy wouldn't have known who Julia Baird is and he definitely would never have heard of Magda," the former friend said.