Outspoken league icon John Hopoate has mounted an explosive defence of Wallabies star Israel Folau's anti-gay social media posts.
Folau faces having his contract terminated by Rugby Australia, after posting that Hell awaited "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters", unless they repented.
After a similar social-media outburst 12 months ago, Folau was placed on a very short leash by Castle, but that has not prevented another rant that may prove the final straw on his rugby career.
- Folau requests code-of-conduct hearing over anti-gay rants
- Petition supporting Folau gathers steam
- Folau served breach notice by Rugby Australia
On Wednesday, he requested a code-of-conduct hearing in a final bid to stave off the axe.
But Hopoate has sprung to Folau's defence, telling critics to "toughen the F up" on Facebook and Twitter.
"Why's everyone so worried about what Israel Folau said," he posted. "All these idiots carrying on like he's murdered someone.
"If you’re a bloody HOMO who cares, I've been called racist names and all other crap all my life.
"If you can't handle been told your going to hell we'll tough the F up cause no 1 cares if you do or if you don't.
"The1 thing I can say is GOD MADE ADAM AND EVE NOT ADAM AND STEVE."
Among many hashtags attached to the posts were #IfTheBossOfTheMajorSponsorIsAHomo #LookForAnotherSponsor
Rugby Australia is likely under considerable pressure to punish Folau from principal sponsor Qantas, whose chief executive Alan Joyce is openly gay.
Hopoate is probably best known in sporting infamy for sticking his finger up the bottoms of NRL opponents, while playing for Wests Tigers in 2001.
Now aged 45, he has since taken up boxing.