Israel Folau once poster boy for gay rugby's world tournament

Wallabies superstar Israel Folau may be under fire for his homophobic social media posts, but five years ago, he was a leading advocate for the world's biggest gay rugby tournament.

Folau is on the verge of losing his multimillion-dollar contract with Rugby Australia, after an Instagram post that claimed Hell awaited "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters" unless they repented.

RA and New South Wales Rugby Union spent Thursday trying to contact their player, but by Thursday night, they were ready to severe ties.

"In the absence of compelling mitigating factors, it is our intention to terminate his contract," they said in a statement.

Folau's outlook seems to have changed considerably since 2014, when he and Wallabies teammate Adam Ashley-Cooper were literally poster boys for the Bingham Cup, the World Cup of gay and inclusive rugby.

They appeared on the cover of the Star Observer, a magazine for the Aussie gay and lesbian community, alongside the heading 'Big Boys and Their Balls'.

"The Wallabies' Adam Ashley-Cooper and the Waratahs' Israel Folau get it on for the tournament."

Folau and Ashley-Cooper also visited a training session for the gay Sydney Convicts team, who played a curtainraiser to the Super Rugby clash between the Waratahs and Highlanders at Allianz Stadium.

At the time, a Bingham Cup spokesman said Folau was a "strong advocate for ending all forms of the discrimination in sport".

As recently as last June, after a similar anti-gay outburst from Folau, he congratulated the Convicts for regaining the trophy in Amsterdam.

"I am definitely pleased for the guys, winning the Cup," he said. "It is a great achievement - I am pumped for them.

"I think a lot of people think I have a hateful view towards gay people. That's not the case at all.

"People have a reaction to my past comments in that they're hateful and stuff like that, but they are not. I'm just sticking to my beliefs.

"Obviously, that's a different experience and viewpoint to what other people believe."