Israel Folau has told a conference in Sydney he knew the Instagram post that sparked his dismissal from Rugby Australia, and subsequent court case, would be offensive.
Speaking at a conference organised by the Australian Christian Lobby, who also crowdfunded his legal costs after GoFundMe booted Folau from their platform, the former Wallabies star said his social media used ‘changed completely’ after he was ‘born again.’
Folau has commenced legal proceedings against Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs, alleging he was unfairly dismissed on the basis of his religion.
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Rugby Australia maintains Folau breached the players’ code of conduct, which formed the grounds for his sacking.
Folau said his dismissal had come as a surprise, during his speech at the conference.
"As soon as I had a real conversion and was born again, my social media use changed completely," Folau said.
"It wasn’t new, I’d been doing it for a while, so I was caught off guard.
“Obviously the gospel was offensive to a lot of people and it was offensive to me at one point, but that caused me to have a change of heart, to come to repentance and realise I was a sinner and needed a saviour.
“So I knew it was going to be offensive to a lot of people ... but ultimately it’s a message of love."
Folau slams Rugby Australia ‘bias’ in huge allegation
Israel Folau has accused one of the members of a three-person tribunal panel that recommended he be sacked by Rugby Australia of bias.
That's one of the sacked star's many arguments in the latest chapter of his legal battle with the sporting authority, as the 30-year-old fights to be reinstated and receive an apology.
Lawyers for Folau lodged more documents with the Federal Circuit Court, as he sues RA and the NSW Waratahs for unlawful dismissal over controversial Instagram comments.
In the latest court documents, Folau took a swipe at the appointment of a human rights lawyer to the Rugby Australia-convened tribunal which investigated his behaviour and ultimately recommended his sacking.
Folau objected at the time to the appointment of Kate Eastman SC "on the ground of apprehended bias", partly due to her advocacy for the LGBTI community.
She previously chaired the Law Council of Australia's Equal Opportunity Committee, the NSW Bar Association's Diversity and Equality Committee and the Australian Bar Association's Diversity and Inclusion Committee.