WARNING: DISTRESSING CONTENT

Controversial former rugby league star and boxer John Hopoate has come out in support of Israel Folau after the Wallabies fullback's latest anti-gay Instagram spray.

Folau — who refused to delete his controversial post after huge public backlash — was hit with a breach notice from Rugby Australia on Monday and will likely never play for the Wallabies again.

Hopoate, a 209-match NRL veteran known more for his controversies, took to Facebook and Twitter to take aim at Folau's bosses in a homophobic rant.

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"Why's everyone so worried about what Israel Folau said,'' Hopoate wrote.

"All these idiots carrying on like he's murdered someone. If your (sic) a bloody HOMO who cares, I've been called racist names and all other crap all my life and if you can't handle been told your (sic) going to hell we'll toughen the F up cause no 1 cares if you do or if you don't.

"But 1 thing I can say is GOD MADE ADAM AND EVE NOT ADAM AND STEVE.''

Hopoate also included a number of inflammatory hashtags on his post: "#AustralianRugbyAreMuts #IfTheBossOfTheMajorSponsorIsAHomo #LookForAnotherSponsor #SpeakWhatYouBelieveNotWhatOthersWantYouToSay".

Why’s everyone so worried about what Israel Folau said. All these idiots carrying on like he’s murdered someone. If...

Posted by John Hopoate on Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Former world-class boxer Nader Hamdan, who fought and lost to Anthony Mundine in 2008, commented on the Facebook post: "Keepin it real John Hopoate ... Adam & Eve, never Adam & Steve. They don't believe in hell so why they get so upset I don't know."

Hopoate, 45, has dipped in and out of controversy ever since his infamous "bum poking" saga in 2001. His most recent scandal involved a "repulsive" joke when he took the field for the Legends of League charity event with a rubber glove on his hand.

It came just one day after Hopoate's son William Hopoate, a Bulldogs player, finally opened up on how the infamous "Hoppa" tackle clouded his childhood.

The 26-year-old Bulldogs star wrote in a story for the Players Voice that the scandal made life difficult for the entire family.

Will Hopoate says Wests Tigers teammates of his father insisted his decision to poke Glenn Morrison, Peter Jones and Paul Bowman was "supposed to be a prank to watch in team video sessions" but "ended up costing him his personal brand for life".

Top rugby referee Nigel Owens has described Israel Folau's comments as 'hurtful' and 'narrow-minded'. Photo / Photosport
Top rugby referee Nigel Owens has described Israel Folau's comments as 'hurtful' and 'narrow-minded'. Photo / Photosport

Meanwhile, leading rugby referee Nigel Owens has described Folau's religious views as narrow minded and potentially "very, very hurtful" to a lot of people.

Owens, who is gay, said high-profile players such as Folau need to understand the influence they have over young, vulnerable people in particular.

In an interview with British radio station talkSPORT, the Welshman was highly critical of Folau.

"There are some things in life that you can choose and your sexuality is not one of them," Owens said.

"I respect people who are brought up with religious beliefs, and some who are entrenched and will follow those religious beliefs,no matter how narrow minded they may be to the rest of us.

"Although everyone has the right to have his view, you then have to understand the consequences when you express the view that can be very, very hurtful to a lot of people."

Folau has until 5pm (NZ time) afternoon to respond to Rugby Australia's breach notice or his contract will be terminated.

Israel Folau has until 5pm today to respond to Rugby Australia. Photo / Photosport
Israel Folau has until 5pm today to respond to Rugby Australia. Photo / Photosport

Owens said he wouldn't officiate Folau any differently on the field if he does remain in the sport.

The same would apply to England No 8 Billy Vunipola, who has voiced support for Folau and his beliefs.

"I've refereed those players in the past and they've treated me with respect," Owens said.

"I don't judge people, I have a job to do on the field and I will just referee what's in front of me. I think it's hugely important that rugby maintains that value and ethos of respect."