Michael Cheika speaks with Israel Folau of Australia at the Principality Stadium.
Michael Cheika speaks with Israel Folau of Australia at the Principality Stadium.

‘They have to act’: Horan, Mortlock take on Folau firestorm

WALLABIES greats Tim Horan and Stirling Mortlock believe Israel Folau's latest social media outburst will force Rugby Australia to take action.

On Thursday, Mortlock questioned what had motivated the Wallabies superstar to publicly double down on his controversial views, and Horan tipped a "line in the sand" stand from the governing body.

RA's integrity unit is investigating after Folau's foray on Instagram to proclaim hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters".

The code-hopping superstar faces sanctioning - and possibly even having his multimillion-dollar four-year contract torn up - after the governing body condemned his posts as "unacceptable".

"It does not represent the values of the sport and is disrespectful to members of the rugby community," RA said of Folau's extreme stance.

Folau's Super Rugby franchise, the NSW Waratahs, echoed the RA statement with their own on Thursday morning.

Folau had already tested RA boss Raelene Castle with a series of homophobic posts last year, most notably one that said "God's plan for gay people was "HELL".

The three-time John Eales medallist was warned but not sanctioned by Castle after defiantly threatening to walk away from the game if his beliefs were compromised.

Folau, who turned 30 last week before becoming Super Rugby's all-time leading try scorer on Saturday with his 60th five-pointer for the NSW Waratahs, had since been largely quiet on social media until Wednesday.

He posted a meme that read: "WARNING Drunks Homosexuals Adulterers Liars Fornicators Thieves Atheists Idolaters, HELL AWAITS YOU. REPENT! ONLY JESUS SAVES" before adding a Bible verse from Galatians.

He went on to add: "Those who are living in sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him".

Folau also took to Twitter to push another issue.

The backline ace retweeted a story headlined "Tasmania becomes first Australian jurisdiction to make gender optional on birth certificates" with the comment: "The devil has blinded so many people in this world, REPENT and turn away from your evil ways. Turn to Jesus Christ who will set you free."

Mortlock, Australia's 2007 World Cup captain, was puzzled by Folau's motives and believed the try-scoring whiz had forced RA's hand this time.

"I actually think he's pushed Rugby Australia into a corner and they have to act," Mortlock told AAP on Thursday.

Stirling Mortlock believes Rugby Australia's hand has been forced. Picture: Getty Images
Stirling Mortlock believes Rugby Australia's hand has been forced. Picture: Getty Images

"But you'd love to get to the bottom as to why? Why has he done it? "Everyone knows his point of view, right? He's done this a number of times already.

"So it's more (about) what was the motivations to going again knowing full well that he was probably going to get sanctioned?"

Two-time World Cup winner Horan lauded Folau as one of the 25 all-time greatest Wallabies and a "great bloke", but said there was a time and a place to air his extreme religious beliefs.

"He's been warned, he's been told about these (social media) policies before," Horan told Fox Sports.

"It's challenging for Rugby Australia but he's not leaving Rugby Australia many options at the moment.

"I don't know what they're going to do but it's going to be a line in the sand at some stage in the next 24, 48 hours."

ISRAEL FOLAU'S SOCIAL MEDIA TIMELINE

September 2017: Folau tweets that he will not support gay marriage. Rugby Australia (RA) says they don't support Folau and he doesn't reflect their views.

April 2018: Folau responds to a question on his Instagram post about what God's plan is for gay people, saying: "HELL...Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God".

April 2018: RA decide not to sanction Folau, who offered to walk away from his contract. RA chief executive Raelene Castle warns all players over their obligation to use social media in a respectful way.

May 2018: Folau shares a video featuring controversial American evangelical preacher David Wilkerson, in which the preacher can be heard to say "rampant iniquity, sexual perversion beyond description" as images of protesters with rainbow flags play in the background.

February 2019: Folau signs a new four-year multimillion-dollar deal, which is believed to contain social media clauses he must observe.

April 2019: Folau tweets a screenshot of a news article about Tasmania making gender optional on birth certificates, adding a message: "The devil has blinded so many people in this world, REPENT and turn away from your evil ways. Turn to Jesus Christ who will set you free."

April 2019: Folau also shares an image on Instagram saying hell awaits for "homosexuals, fornicators, drunks and atheists".

April 2019: RA says Instagram post is "unacceptable" and engages its integrity unit.

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News Corp Australia


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