Wallabies superstar Israel Folau has two days to respond or face the sack after being served with a breach notice by Rugby Australia over his controversial social media posts.
RA CEO Raelene Castle said the RA integrity unit had deemed Folau had committed a “high level” breach of the players’ code of conduct warranting termination of his contract.
“We appreciate this matter will attract significant interest but due process must be followed,” Castle told reporters on Monday afternoon.
“Israel had 48 hours to accept the sanction or have the matter sent to a code of conduct hearing.”
Folau remains stood down by RA over his religiously-motivated posts last week proclaiming hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters”.
Castle said Folau had been unapologetic about the posts and his stance when she met with him last Friday.
That came after he had been warned, formally and repeatedly about social media expectations after he made similar posts about a year ago.
“It was made clear to Israel in writing and verbally when I met with him last year that any social media posts or commentary that in any way were disrespectful to people because of their sexuality would result in disciplinary action,” Castle said.
“Despite this Israel has chosen to ignore this warning.”
Earlier on Monday, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika told reporters that Folau’s “disrespectful” comments would currently make it impossible to pick him in the national team, which is preparing for this year’s World Cup in Japan.
“Getting out in that disrespectful manner publicly is not what our team’s about,” Cheika said on Monday.
“When you play in the gold jersey, we represent everyone in Australia – everyone. Everyone that’s out there supporting us. We don’t pick and choose.”
Cheika fronted the media alongside Wallabies and NSW Waratahs captain Michael Hooper and Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson.
Asked if he would be comfortable taking the field again alongside Folau, flanker Hooper said “In this current state and being here and talking about this as a rugby player, it makes it hard, it makes it difficult.
“You take your friends warts and all, and your teammates,’ Hooper added.
“It’s frustrating having to stand here because I can’t speak for Israel, but it is part of the team celebrating our diversity and celebrating that in a respectful manner.”
While emphasising what their teams stood for, especially regarding diversity, Cheika and Hooper also stressed Folau was entitled to his beliefs.
“Everybody has the right – and we respect that right – to believe whatever they like. We’re not moral judgers and no one should be,” Cheika said.
Cheika said he didn’t think the issue would rear its head again after the controversy of last year’s tweets and Rugby Australia’s subsequent talks with Folau.
He had tried unsuccessfully to contact him for an explanation.
“We had a discussion at the end of the last time and made it pretty clear about his right to believe and our support in that if that’s what he wants,” he said.
“I felt that I needed to talk to him about why, and I haven’t had that chance as yet. I’m sure I will in the future at some stage when it settles down for him a little bit.
“I made the calls and left the messages. There’s no beef.”
Folau told reporters after attending his church on Sunday that he stood by his posts and was prepared to walk away from the game for the sake of his faith.