Israel Folau has attempted to explain his controversial comments linking the deadly bushfires that have ravaged parts of Australia, to same-sex marriage and abortion.
Folau's comments drew widespread criticism, with Prime Minster Scott Morrison branding them “appallingly insensitive”.
During a 10-minute sermon, Folau said the timing of the bushfire crisis was no coincidence, but rather a taste of God's judgment.
‘ABSOLUTELY ABSURD’: Peter FitzSimons slams Israel Folau’s new claim
"I've been looking around at the events that's been happening in Australia, this past couple of weeks, with all the natural disasters, the bushfires and the droughts," he said.
Folau then linked a Bible passage to the twin disasters of bushfire and drought and, in turn, the legalising of same-sex marriage and abortion.
"The events that have happened here in Australia, in the last couple of years - God's word says for a man and a woman to be together ... they've come and changed this law," he said.
"Abortion, it's okay now to murder, kill infants, unborn children."
Folau moved to address the outrage that his comments sparked, uploading a video to his personal website to explain what he was trying to say.
“God is full of love and the scriptures say that God is patient and is not willing that anyone should perish but come to repentance, so that’s why I’m so passionate about sharing God's word even if it comes across as harsh and people take it the wrong way,” Folau said.
“What I was referring to in terms of the natural disasters that are happening now wasn’t a direct, I guess, message to the people that are affected.
“In actual fact, it was just a timely reminder of God’s word and trying to point people onto the path of righteousness.
“In saying that, my thoughts and prayers do go out to the people that are affected. It’s horrible to see and you never want anyone to go through that sort of stuff, but as a Christian, you are always praying for people.
“You see the droughts today, you pray for rain and things to be restored. That’s ultimately as Christians what we’re driven by and what we’re bound by is God’s love.”
Folau made headlines again this week after revelations he was seeking $14 million in damages from Rugby Australia after claiming among other things, that his sacking denied him the chance to become Wallabies captain.
Peter FitzSimons tears Israel Folau claim to shreds
Former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons slammed his astonishing new $14 million legal claim as "absurd".
According to new court documents revealed this week, Folau is seeking an extra $4 million in damages from Rugby Australia over his controversial sacking.
The former Wallabies fullback was initially seeking $10 million but is arguing that figure should be considerably higher.
The documents claim the Wallabies would have put in a "superior performance" if Folau was selected for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and he could have possibly captained "a trophy-winning Wallabies team".
Folau's notion that he could have captained the national side has raised many eyebrows in the rugby world, with many disputing the legitimacy of the claim.
FitzSimons used 39 years of history in Australian rugby to tear Folau's argument to shreds.
“The last time Australian rugby had a fullback as captain was in 1980. It was Paul McLean, it was one Test, and after that the theory in Australian rugby was that fullback was too far from the main game to be the captain, so the tradition in Australian rugby is we don’t have a fullback as a captain,” FitzSimons said.
“I find the claim absolutely absurd.”
The respected rugby analyst then went on to back up his assertion by pointing out that despite former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika naming a long list of vice-captains during his national tenure, Folau was never one of those players to make the cut.
"Michael Cheika, who was the Wallabies coach of course, he moved through seven vice-captains," FitzSimons added.
“Now, if Michael Cheika had seven vice-captains and Israel Folau wasn’t one of them, I think by definition he was a very unlikely man to be captain.”
Folau, a hardline Christian, claims he was wrongfully dismissed by Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW after a controversial Instagram post in April condemning "drunks" and "homosexuals" and warning "hell awaits" them.
Folau has also previously claimed transgender people are evil and should repent.