Former Wallabies star Drew Mitchell has used Israel Folau's own words against him to hit out at the decision to challenge Rugby Australia in a code of conduct hearing.
Folau officially responded to RA on Wednesday as his multimillion-dollar contract hangs in the balance.
Unless successful at the hearing, Folau faces the sack after being issued with a “high-level” breach notice over controversial social media posts he made on April 10.
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RA chief executive Raelene Castle has said Folau was warned formally and repeatedly last year about the expectation of him as a Wallabies and Waratahs player in regards to his social media use, following similar controversial posts.
She has stressed the action taken against Folau is about the issue of responsibilities an employee owes to their employer rather than punishment for his religious beliefs.
The religiously motivated Folau attracted the fresh storm of controversy when he posted on Instagram: "Warning. Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators. Hell awaits you. Repent! Only Jesus saves."
But as far back as last year, Folau stated he would be prepared to walk away from the sport.
"I told Raelene, if she felt the situation had become untenable – that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldn't be worked through, I would walk away from my contract, immediately," Folau wrote last year.
On Wednesday, Mitchell wasted little time pointing to the post that sparked the latest storm.
"When words & actions aren’t aligned... The fact Rugby Australia intend to terminate Israel Folau's contract would suggest it’s become untenable," he wrote on Twitter.
"I would hate to think Izzy is a liar because we know what happens to them.."
2018 vs 2019
When words & actions aren’t aligned....
The fact @RugbyAU intend to terminate @IzzyFolau contract would suggest it’s become untenable.
I would hate to think Izzy is a liar because we know what happens to them.. pic.twitter.com/47YS7rxRiS
— Drew Mitchell (@drew_mitchell) April 17, 2019
The hearing process will involve a panel of three – a representative of RA, a representative of the players' union RUPA and someone else approved by both organisations.
Given there are Easter public holidays on Friday and next Monday then Anzac Day next Thursday, it seems unlikely the hearing will be conducted until the following week.
It's understood the hearing would not take place for five days until after the tribunal has been convened.
There's no guarantee the outcome of the hearing will be the final chapter of the saga, as the loser could could consider taking the matter to the courts
The standoff between Folau and his employers comes just five months out from the World Cup in Japan and two months after he signed a four-year contract.
Just a few hours before RA announced Folau had been served with the breach notice, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said he he wouldnt be able to select him for the World Cup under the circumstances.
The reality of Folau's absence from Australian rugby union fields – at least for the time being – will start to hit home over the next few days.
The Waratahs will on Thursday announce a team with someone else in their No.15 jersey, for Saturday's significant Super Rugby Australian conference derby against Melbourne Rebels.
The NSW Rugby Union last Friday stood Folau down from all player duties with the Waratahs, to whom his younger brother John is contracted.