Former Wallabies player Peter FitzSimons has taken his stand against Israel Folau to live TV in a squabble with News Corp’s Miranda Devine.
Folau’s future in Australian rugby is looking increasingly grim after an independent panel determined that the Wallabies superstar committed a “high level” breach of his contract.
FitzSimons, never wavering in his belief that Folau should be sacked, has already clashed with Alan Jones, a former Wallabies coach, over the issue.
On Sunday morning, the columnist took his position to broadcast television.
Devine claimed the Polynesians and devout Christians who make up Australia's rugby population across all levels "do not agree" with FitzSimons' view.
“I don’t understand how you can just crucify a man for his Christianity," she said on Channel Nine.
"All he has done is quote the Bible and you seem to think that it’s ok to destroy not just his job, but his livelihood.
“If you are going to tell every person of faith, which is the majority of Australians have some sort of religious faith, if you are going to tell them that they cannot express their faith for fear of losing their entire career, their entire life, their entire livelihood, then I don’t know that we live in a free country.”
FitzSimons said it's "not about crucifying Christians", saying the Wallabies have been filled with religious players for decades, but ensuring all people are looked after.
‘SACK US ALL’: Rugby exec takes action after player’s threat
"I am saying in the 21st century we have come to understand that some kids are born with blond hair, some kids are born with black hair, some kids are born gay," he said.
“As (openly gay former NRL player) Ian Roberts said last week, kids in the suburbs, particularly teenagers, are taking their lives because of vilification.”
Devine interrupted FitzSimons on multiple occasions, including after he made reference to teen suicide.
'You can't do what he did'
“He has lost the dressing room entirely,” FitzSimons said during the program.
“You can’t do what he did. There is no other organisation in Australia that could possibly countenance one of their employees, the person they put on the poster in the shopfront window, posting that.
“And there is no sponsor, there is no corporation in the country that would say 'Hmm, (we) want a bit of that. Take $5 million, we’ll associate ourselves with that’.”
Sportswear brand Asics has already dumped Folau as a brand ambassador, while Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce put the heat on Rugby Australia this week.
Devine's argument that Folau is being silenced for his beliefs was at odds with the reason behind Rugby Australia's intention to terminate Folau's contract.
The religiously motivated 30-year-old attracted a 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.”
Rugby Australia said that public stance went against their policy of inclusion.
RA chief executive Raelene Castle 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 stressed last month that the action taken against Folau is about the issue of responsibilities an employee owes to their employer rather than punishment for his religious beliefs.