Super Rugby 2019: Rebels, Reds players huddle for prayer after Israel Folau reaches out for support

Australian Super Rugby players from the Melbourne Rebels and the Queensland Reds have huddled for a post-match prayer after Israel Folau reportedly contacted Pacific Island players in the hope they will stand by him for expressing his religious beliefs.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Friday that Rebels and Reds Pacific Island players had proposed to gather for prayer on the field at AAMI Park in a "show of solidarity" for Folau.

It is unknown if the prayer was related to Folau's reported message, but it is timely with his future hanging in the balance.

Wallabies fullback Folau, a fundamentalist Christian, moved a step closer to being sacked by Rugby Australia after he was found to have committed a "high-level" code-of-conduct breach for a post that said hell awaited "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers" and others.  

The case has upset a number of Folau's Wallabies team mates who share his religious beliefs, with Reds prop Taniela Tupou writing that RA "might as well sack... all the other Pacific Islands rugby players around the world."          

Following the Rebels' 30-24 win over the Reds, players from both sides knelt on the pitch with arms locked in a circle as Reds hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa addressed the group with emotion.          

The huddle included a number of Australia players, including Queensland captain Samu Kerevi, his Reds teammate Sefa Naivalu and another Wallabies winger in Melbourne's Marika Koroibete.             

Former Wallaby Stephen Hoiles said on Fox Sports: "We've seen this before, it happens a lot and probably in the last couple of years it's happened more and more.

"Whether or not this is specifically for Israel Folau, we won't know but we've seen that before."

Folau faced a three-member panel over three days of hearings.              

The panel issued its verdict on Tuesday and said it would consider further submissions before issuing a sanction.             

The judgement came more than three weeks after RA and Folau's Super Rugby club New South Wales Waratahs said they intended to terminate his four-year contract.    

Folau has a right to appeal but a high-level breach would be sufficient for RA and the Waratahs to dismiss the 73-test back.               

The offending post, which has attracted 54,000 'likes' and 48,000 comments, remains on Folau's Instagram page.             

Reuters