A wave of public support for under-seige Australian rugby player Israel Folau appears to be brewing.
A petition named '#istandwithIzzyFolau' has been created in response to Folau's imminent sacking by Rugby Australia for anti-gay comments made on social media.
Created by a user named 'christianlivesmatter', the petition has gathered almost 10,000 signatures since it was posted on the change.org site, claiming Folau is the victim of discrimination.
"What happened to freedom of speech, Australia?" the petition's description reads.
"This is discrimination by the Rugby Union Australia against freedom of beliefs… against Christianity and someone's religious beliefs.
"We ask that Israel Folau is allowed to continue to play rugby union, as well as express his religious belief."
- Folau served breach notice by Rugby Australia
- Cheika says he won't pick Folau
- Wallabies 'stronger' without Israel Folau - top Australia coach Rod Kafer
Facebook group 'My Tongan - Online community' also offered its support for Folau - whose parents are Tongan - by sharing the petition to its 17,000-plus members.
Last year, Folau - a devout Christian - was given a warning for similarly controversial posts and was issued a stern 'last chance' warning by his employers.
The 30-year-old's latest post claimed Hell awaited "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters" and proved the final straw for Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle, who deemed it a breach of contract.
Supe Rugby's Waratahs have since stood Folau down and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said he wouldn't select him for the Australia squad.
But that decision will likely soon be out of Cheika's hands, after Castle confirmed Folau had been charged with a "high level" code of conduct breach and its integrity unit had recommended his contract should be terminated.
On Sunday, Folau said he wouldn’t back down on his stance and was prepared to accept his fate from rugby authorities.