Dave Taylor's rugby league club has slammed the Channel 9 Sunday Footy Show after a segment where Erin Molan and co made fun of the former NRL star's weight.
Taylor, who is playing for the Central Queensland Capras in Queensland's top league after playing for the Canberra Raiders last season, was labelled the "Gutsy Player of the Week" during a segment on Sunday's show.
Several members of the show's panel — which included Erin Molan, Peter Sterling and Brad Fittler — laughed as they poked fun at Taylor's appearance.
"He was a gun player in his day, wasn't he?" asked host Molan, to which NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler responded, "What an athlete".
Former Tigers player and co-host Joel Caine also joined in. "Well Dave, look, it's a three-letter word, fit, OK, but it's very easy to turn the 'i' into an 'a', that's all I'm saying — get that 'a' back to an 'i'," he said.
Molan added at the end of the segment the panel was "not shaming Dave Taylor at all".
But the segment was not well-received on social media and in a statement to news.com.au, Capras CEO Peter White said the piece was "very disappointing, but sadly not surprising".
"Our club is proud to have Dave Taylor as part of our organisation and while Dave will be the first to admit he is not playing his best football, personal circumstances have affected his life this year," White said.
"Dave's wellbeing is vitally important to us and I have no doubt next year we will see the best of him.
"The Channel 9 Footy Show hosts comments are totally unprofessional to say the least, and they should rightfully so be feeling very ashamed of their behaviour."
A Nine Spokesperson took to The Sunday Footy Show Twitter account to respond to the controversy.
"We apologise to Dave Taylor for yesterday's segment on the Sunday Footy Show. It was not the intention of the show to embarrass him," statement said.
"He's been a wonderful rugby league player for many years, and through his playing and his personality off the field has contributed greatly to rugby league in this country."
Taylor signed with the Capras on a two-year deal in February after he was released without playing a game from the Toronto Wolfpack, who were looking to gain promotion to the English Super League.
Taylor burst onto the scene with the Brisbane Broncos in 2006 but has had a battle with weight his entire career.
He joined the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2010 and reached the highs of rugby league, playing eight State of Origin matches for Queensland as well as playing against New Zealand in the mid-season ANZAC Test.
After moving to the Gold Coast Titans in 2013, Taylor admitted to The Sunday Mail he needed to lose weight in order to handle the increasing speed of the NRL after spending much of his first season with the club on the bench.
Taylor left for the English Super League in 2016 but returned in 2017 to the Canberra Raiders.
He lost 9kgs in six weeks when he arrived in Canberra but only lasted the season before his move to Toronto, and then to Central Queensland.
Former Broncos and Queensland teammate Justin Hodges said at the time that Taylor had so much potential.
"It's a tough question why Dave Taylor never made it to the heights (he could have)," Hodges said.
"He had everything that you want from a football player. For a big man he had ability, he had speed, he had everything.
"He was like a half-back but he was in a big man's body, that's how Dave worked.
"His big thing was always his weight, his weight always let him down.
"… I'm not saying his lazy but he's just got this mentality where he'll switch off, he just had lapses. Things probably don't mean as much to him as the players around him."
Some viewers also felt the segment was harsh on Taylor.
During the show, Erin Molan defended the controversial comments after back-tracking, telling viewers "By the way we're not fat-shaming David Taylor at all."
One outraged viewer wasn't buying Molan's excuse, however, saying fat shaming and bullying is a major reason why male sucide rates are so high.
Taylor last played in the NRL in 2017 for the Canberra Raiders.
The hulking second-rower was a fan favourite for his blockbusting runs and impressive try-scoring record during his time at the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The 131kg forward played eight State of Origin games for Queensland and one match for Australia.
The controversial segment featuring Taylor has had more than 87,000 views, 1600 comments, and more than 700 reactions.