The English Super League's first openly gay player has slammed the Catalans Dragons' signing of Israel Folau, who will join the club on a one-year deal.
The former Wallabies fullback joins the team after having his contract terminated by Rugby Australia due to a series of homophobic social media posts.
Folau took Rugby Australia to court of his axing, and the two parties reached an out-of-court settlement before he signed with the Dragons.
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The French cub announced the signing this week, with Folau returning to rugby league 10 years after his final season with the Brisbane Broncos in the NRL.
There was plenty of outrage over his signing, with Wakefield Trinity prop Keegan Hirst expressing his shock and disappointment at the situation in a series of posts on Twitter.
"Our great game is tasked with fighting against homophobia and standing up for the values it puts such high stock in. It shows none of the bravery, camaraderie or integrity @rfl expects from its players, staff and fans.
"Just FYI, this has nothing to do with beliefs. It has everything to do with homophobia. There are millions of people practicing their religion who are not homophobic. Prejudice is prejudice and using religion, political beliefs or anything else to justify it is not OK.
"Just to clarify; using your religion to justify your prejudice, whatever it is, is not an expression of beliefs. It's prejudice.
"I imagine a lot of Christians would resent the idea of being lumped in with him, as a bigot because of their religious beliefs."
Addressing the signing, Super League chief executive Robert Elstone said the league deplored Folau's past comments, and said despite the outrage over the signing, there was little the league could do about it.
"I have sought the opinion of informed voices connected to our game, and the majority share my disappointment that one of our clubs has chosen to sign him.
"There is a strong feeling that the decision to sign him lets down many people connected to our sport. I made Catalans Dragons aware of those views.
"However, Super League does not have the authority to veto the registration of players and is satisfied by the due diligence carried out by The Rugby Football League.
"Israel Folau is a free agent, who has the right to work, and he has not been charged or found guilty of any criminal offence.
"Catalans Dragons has assured Super League that strict guidelines are in place to prevent the player from repeating his comments.
"They have also assured us that his contract will be terminated immediately should he do so."