Israel Folau challenges Rugby Australia sacking over homophobic posts

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Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle announced Folau had 48 hours to respond to a breach notice on Monday afternoon in relation to his controversial social media post on April 10.

Australia's full-back Israel Folau scores a try during the worldwide rugby union test match between England and Australia at Twickenham stadium in south-west London on 24 November 2018.

In an exclusive interview with SMH, Folau gave a defiant response to the Rugby Australia sanction.

The latest showdown with the devoutly religious 30-year-old - who last year was embroiled in a similar row - came after he posted on his Instagram account that "Hell awaits" homosexuals.

Israel Folau has responded to Rugby Australia's breach notice and has requested the matter be referred to a code of conduct hearing.

RA will instead reportedly argue that Folau breached his code of conduct by vilifying people based on their sexuality, with the Telegraph quoting lawyers who believe employees will be able to sue should be avoid being sacked.

The hearing will involve a representative of RA, a representative of the players' union RUPA and an independent person given the green light from both organisations.

Owens, who is gay, said high-profile players such as under-fire Wallabies star Folau need to understand the influence they have over young, vulnerable people in particular.

Folau may have grounds to fight the ruling, with RA's failure to include a social media clause in his new contract set to be a key element in his hearing.

Folau faces having his Australian contract torn up, while Vunipola has been warned by England and his club Saracens.

It was criticised by politicians, rugby stars and fans across the world.

Beaten in the 2015 World Cup final by New Zealand, Australia are coming off their worst season in decades and have fallen to number six in the world, with few giving them much chance of lifting the silverware in Japan.

Welsh whistler Owens said people like Folau had to understand the influence they held.

Following a service at the Truth Of Jesus Christ Church, he told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper: "I share it with love. If that's not to continue on playing, so be it", he added. "Reading what he said after it, there's no apology, I just can't see a way back for him and I think that's quite sad to be honest with you".