Will Genia may have criticised Israel Folau's actions on social media earlier this year, but the Wallabies halfback says nothing has quite hit home like the news of his teammate's sacking.
Folau's $4 million contract with Rugby Australia was officially terminated on Friday after an independent three-person panel found his social media posts, which hit out against gay and transgender people, as a high-level breach to the code of conduct.
At the time of Folau's April 10 post, which said homosexuals among other "sinners" would go to hell unless they repented, Genia spoke out against his long-time teammate - even slamming his views as "completely wrong".
However, it didn't make the news of Folau's sacking any easier to accept.
"I'm sad for the game and sorry for him and I just really hope he's OK," Genia said at a pre-World Cup Wallabies camp.
"At the end of the day he's got feelings, he's got emotions, he's got a family and, from all the time I've spent with him, he loves playing the game and to have that taken away from him, I'm sure he would be really upset.
"With everything that's happened, he's lost out on the opportunity to do what he loves and he's still young and he's an unbelievable player and he's not going to be able to play the game anymore and that's really sad."
Genia said he sent Folau a text following the decision to check on his welfare.
Folau has until 5pm [7pm NZ time] on Monday to appeal against the loss of his lucrative Rugby Australia contract and is expected to forgo the option of a second hearing to appeal and instead head straight to court.
The 30-year-old has already rejected a $1 million settlement offer by Rugby Australia and looks keen to make a statement about his beliefs.
Springbok Handre Pollard said he too believed Folau's talent was a loss to Rugby Australia when speaking to media after the Bulls Super Rugby win over Melbourne, and said he hoped there was a way the Wallabies star could one day return.
"Israel is probably one of the best players in the world, not just in Australia," Pollard said.
"I don't know all the details about it and I only know him from the locker room but not only is he an unbelievable talent, he's a great guy.
"Hopefully there's a way we can still see him playing rugby because it's an absolute treat."