A former teammate of Israel Folau has said it is time for the player “to be moved on”.
Ex-Australia winger Drew Mitchell has criticised Folau’s social media comments which have led to Rugby Australia stating they are to terminate his contract.
A message published on Folau’s Instagram account on Wednesday read that “hell awaits” for “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators.”
Folau said on Instagram: “Those that 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.”
The Wallabies star was warned last year, but avoided any disciplinary action, for making homophobic comments on his social media channels.
Mitchell has come out strongly against Folau, backing Rugby Australia’s decision to sack the fullback.
Mitchell and Folau were teammates for the Wallabies, with both players starting in the 2015 Rugby World Cup final.
Speaking to foxsports.com.au, Mitchell hailed rugby as an “inclusive game for all” and called for Folau to be moved on.
“We play in a game that is inclusive of everything: race, religion, gender, sexuality, all of it. We’re an inclusive sport.
“If Israel Folau doesn’t want to be involved in a sport that’s inclusive then he should go find another sport because he’s proven time and time again that he doesn’t share those inclusive values.
“I think it’s time for Israel to be moved on.
“He’s left Rugby Australia with only one decision and I think he knew that he was going to do that by posting these things, and perhaps that’s his motivation by doing it.”
Mitchell said that wearing his nation’s jersey meant “you’re representing everyone in Australia.”
He said that he “could not disagree more” with Folau’s comments.
“I’ve got a number of gay friends, as well as all the other people that would fall into the categories listed by Israel, and we need to support each other.
“A big part of the reason why people love the game of rugby is because it stands by those things — being inclusive, having respect, all those pillars of rugby that make it what it is — he’s representing none of those.”
Rugby Australia said they and New South Wales met with Folau today to discuss the situation.
“Following today’s meeting the two organisations will update their respective Boards on the matter to consider next steps,” a statement read.
“Our joint position regarding Israel Folau is unchanged.”
– additional reporting by Press Association