It seems inconceivable now, but five years ago Israel Folau appeared on the cover of a gay magazine.
Folau landed himself in hot water again on Thursday when he took to Instagram to proclaim hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters”.
The code-hopping superstar faces sanctioning – and possibly even having his multi-million-dollar four-year contract torn up – after Rugby Australia condemned his posts as “unacceptable”.
So the fact that Folau once posed for a cover shoot for the ‘Star Observer’ seems rather stunning.
Dubbing itself ‘Australia’s longest-running publication for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities’, the mag had Folau and fellow Wallaby Adam Ashley-Cooper on the cover in 2014 promoting the Bingham Cup – a non-professional, gay tournament.
Under the headline ‘big boys and their balls,’ the cover said Folau and Ashley-Cooper were “getting it on for the tournament.”
Back then, a spokesperson for the Bingham Cup said Folau was a “strong advocate for ending all forms of the discrimination in sport.”
Future in doubt
Folau had already tested RA boss Raelene Castle with a series of homophobic posts last year, most notably one that said “God’s plan for gay people was “HELL”.
The three-times John Eales medallist was warned but not sanctioned by Castle after defiantly threatening to walk away from the game if his beliefs were compromised.
Folau, who turned 30 last week before becoming Super Rugby’s all-time leading try scorer on Saturday with his 60th five-pointer for the NSW Waratahs, had since been largely quiet on social media until Wednesday.
He posted a meme that read: “WARNING Drunks Homosexuals Adulterers Liars Fornicators Thieves Atheists Idolaters, HELL AWAITS YOU. REPENT! ONLY JESUS SAVES” before adding a Bible verse from Galatians.
He went on to add: “Those who 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”.
Folau also took to Twitter to push another issue.
The backline ace retweeted a story headlined “Tasmania becomes first Australian jurisdiction to make gender optional on birth certificates” with the comment: “The devil has blinded so many people in this world, REPENT and turn away from your evil ways. Turn to Jesus Christ who will set you free.”
The devil has blinded so many people in this world, REPENT and turn away from your evil ways. Turn to Jesus Christ who will set you free. pic.twitter.com/BWSWTMye98
— Israel Folau (@IzzyFolau) April 10, 2019