Israel Folau prompts anger with views on same-sex marriage at odds with Wallabies teammates
Australia full-back Israel Folau was at the centre of a social media storm on Wednesday after voicing his opposition to same-sex marriage.
The 28-year-old is a devout Christian, but his views on the issue are at odds with a number of his Wallabies teammates who are in favour of the proposed reform.
Australia is readying itself for a referendum by postal vote on the issue of same-sex marriage in the coming weeks, and Falau's tweet attracted widespread derision.
Folau said: "I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. but personally, I will not support gay marriage."
I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. but personally, I will not support gay marriage.— Israel Folau (@IzzyFolau) September 13, 2017
The Australian Rugby Union joined the football, cricket, and rugby league federations are publicly in favour, but the Wallabies star player has now broken ranks on what he sees as a matter of conscience.
Flanker David Pocock has been consistent in support for same-sex marriage, refusing to seal his marriage to partner Emma Palandri until gay people in Australia are legally permitted to do the same.
The ARU also unveiled a rainbow logo on Twitter to emphasise their support, as did Wallabies captain Michael Hopper who said the team would stand behind them.
Hooper told Fairfax Media on Tuesday: "For a lot of guys, they're about footy and our job is rugby, but sport has the ability to cross boundaries.
"We're all very supportive of the 'yes' campaign and this is the approach we've taken. I know guys at the Waratahs have done work with the Sydney Convicts [Australia's first gay rugby club].
"If that helps influence people, then fantastic. We're fully supportive of that and anything we can do."