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Folau and Rugby Australia locked in negotiations

A public trial featuring current and former players is unlikely to be the outcome Rugby Australia wanted, but the sporting body has taken a stance against Folau’s social media posts, which it says were offensive to the LGBTI community.

Folau, a member of an evangelical Christian church,, is suing saying he was unfairly dismissed for expressing his religious beliefs.

Israel Folau prays with supporters before entering mediation on Monday.

Israel Folau prays with supporters before entering mediation on Monday.Credit:Justin McManus

But Rugby Australia says Folau was warned about his social media posting and his $5.7 million contract was terminated last May for a “high-level” breach of the code of conduct that stipulates players cannot publicly vilify people on the grounds of race, gender or sexuality.

Folau claims his employer could not prohibit him, in his own time, from imparting his religious beliefs.

He has ratcheted-up his claim from $10 million to $14 million in lost wages and sponsorships, including on missing out on two world cups and possible captaincy.

Raelene Castle speaks outside the Federal Court in Melbourne.

Raelene Castle speaks outside the Federal Court in Melbourne.Credit:Justin McManus

Before entering mediation on Monday morning, Ms Castle said she was in “no doubt” RA was doing the right thing in defending the lawsuit.

“Israel’s commentary subsequent to his termination have only reinforced this belief,” she said.

“But we come here today with a genuine desire to find a settlement that is sensible and reasonable.”

Folau, supported by his netballer wife Maria Folau, shook hands and prayed with a small group of supporters as he went into court.

In a video published on his website, Folau said he asked God to watch over both parties in the mediation for “real courage to uphold the truth”.

“I understand that not everyone shares my faith and some find it difficult to reconcile with their own beliefs. I want to be clear, I only share passages from the Bible as a gesture of love,” Folau said.

In his posts, Folau said hell awaited gay people and legal recognition of transgender and intersex Australians was “evil”.

Monday’s discussions follow multiple days of damage control, after Folau suggested the recent NSW bushfires were “a little taste of God’s judgment”.

“Look how rapid these bushfires, these droughts, all these things have come, in a short period of time,” Folau told members of his church. “You think it’s a coincidence or not? God is speaking to you guys. Australia, you need to repent.”

Folau said his remarks were not aimed directly at the bushfire victims, but he also doubled down on his decision to comment publicly on sexuality and other matters, saying it would be “unloving” of him to do otherwise.

“Sharing the word of God is so important to me because it’s the great commission, it’s what God has called each Christian to do,” he said.

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