Israel Folau's former teammates disappointed by sacking

Several Australian rugby players have taken to social media to pay tribute and show support for sacked former teammate Israel Folau.

On Friday, Folau had his multi-year contract worth millions with Rugby Australia torn up after taking to Instagram last month to proclaim "hell awaits drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters".   

The 30-year-old can appeal the decision to Rugby Australia within the next 72 hours, but according to multiple reports he will go straight to the Supreme Court.

But for now Folau is unemployed, and many current players are saddened by the news including Sekope Kepu, Samu Kerevi, Curtis Rona and Taniela Tupou, who posted photos of themselves with Folau to Instagram.

"Will miss going to battle with you my Toko [brother]," Kepu wrote. "Ofa atu [love to you]."

Queensland Reds captain Kerevi said it was sad that he won't share the field with Folau anymore. The Reds are hosting Folau's former side, the Waratahs, at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

"Tomorrow night won't be the same without you there mana. God's in Control, Always," said Kerevi.

Rona quoted the Bible in his post.

"Missing you brother," Rona posted, followed by a passage from the Gospel of John: "If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you.

"If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world - therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'Servants are not greater than their master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also."

Tupou, who said earlier this month that all Pacific Island players around the world should be sacked because of their Christian beliefs,  said the 73-test fullback was going to be missed.

"Good luck with your future endeavours toko! It's definitely been an honor and a privilage [sic] to have played alongside you," he said.

"Really going to miss you but I look forward to what the future has in store for you brother. Ofa atu and God Bless."

On top of that, former Waratah and Springbok loose forward Jacques Potgieter said Folau was "one of the best teammates he's had during his rugby career".

"Good luck for your next journey my brother #worldbest15," Potgieter added.

 Folau also posted on Instagram after his sacking - his first since the now infamous post which got him banned.

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness and all these things show be added unto you."

Folau also released a statement saying he was "saddened" by the decision.

"I am deeply saddened by today's decision to terminate my employment and I am considering my options.

"As Australians, we are born with certain rights, including the right to freedom of religion and the right to freedom of expression. The Christian faith has always been a part of my life and I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God's word. Upholding my religious beliefs should not prevent my ability to work or play for my club and country.

"I would like to thank my wife Maria for her love and encouragement to stay true to our beliefs. We have been humbled by the support we have received from family, friends, players, fans and the wider community.

"Thank you also to those who have spoken out in my defence, some of whom do not share my beliefs but have defended my right to express them."