Sacked former Wallabies full-back Israel Folau has been accused of greed after launching an online fundraising drive for his legal action against Rugby Australia.
Folau’s 4million Australian dollars (£2.2million) contract was terminated after he posted on social media that all homosexuals would go to hell before an independent panel upheld that decision.
The 30-year-old has now taken his case to the Fair Work Commission and has set up a GoFundMe page asking for AusD3m (£1.6m) for his legal battle.
A number of former Wallabies reacted angrily on social media, however, with ex-Australia wing Drew Mitchell heavily critical and referencing the many seriously ill people using GoFundMe to foot medical bills.
Mitchell tweeted: “You are in a fight that you chose to be in after you broke the terms of your contract, the kids below are in a fight they never wanted to be in and yet you think you deserve donations more than they do? It’s no longer about religion, it’s about you and your greed.”
Folau would have proved one of Australia’s top draws at the autumn’s World Cup in Japan, but his 73-Test Wallabies career is in tatters.
Former Wallabies centre Morgan Turinui posted: “Whichever side you fall on the Izzy Folau debate surely we can all see the ignominy of this.”
Folau has already received more than AusD 300,000 (£164,000) in donations to the website, on which he added a short statement.
“My faith is the most important thing in my life,” read Folau’s statement.
“I try to live my life according to the Bible and I believe it is my duty to share the word of the Bible.
“Earlier this year, I uploaded some messages from the Bible on my Instagram page. I believe that sharing the Bible is an act of love and compassion.
“Indeed, what makes our country so wonderful is that we have such a diverse community made up of so many different cultures and values.
“But my faith defines me as a person. I do not believe that it is fair or right that I be punished for my religious beliefs.
“Rugby Australia have already said that they will divert significant resources to fight me in court. Even if I win, Rugby Australia can appeal.
“My wife Maria and I have already spent over AusD 100,000 (£55,000) of our own money, and that was just to try and deal with Rugby Australia’s internal tribunal processes.
“The money I am asking for is solely to fund the rest of my action in court.
“I know I am putting myself on the line – this action will be very costly in terms of time, money and reputation – but I do not intend to stop now.
“I have the fight of my life on my hands and every little bit will help.”