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Vunipola defends Australia's Folau in anti-gay row

The deeply religious Israel Folau held talks with Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle on Friday, a day after she said she intended to fire him, barring mitigating circumstances, for posting on Instagram that "Hell awaits" homosexuals.

FILE: Billy Vunipola. Picture: @Saracens/Twitter

LONDON - England's Billy Vunipola has refused to condemn Wallabies star Israel Folau following a homophobia row that has left the Australian facing the sack just months before the World Cup.

The deeply religious Folau held talks with Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle on Friday, a day after she said she intends to fire him, barring mitigating circumstances, for posting on Instagram that "Hell awaits" homosexuals.

But the meeting with the NSW Waratahs fullback, who was embroiled in a similar controversy last year, did nothing to alter the governing body's stance.

England and Saracens No 8 Vunipola said he had been contacted by people telling him to 'unlike' Folau's post.

"So this morning I got 3 phone calls from people telling me to 'unlike' the @izzyfolau post. This is my position on it," he said on his Instagram page.

"I don't HATE anyone neither do I think I’m perfect. There just comes a point when you insult what I grew up believing in that you just say enough is enough, what he's saying isn't that he doesn't like or love those people."

In an apparent show of support to his fellow Christian, Vunipola states:

"He's saying how we live our lives needs to be closer to how God intended them to be. Man was made for woman to procreate that was the goal no?"

England's Rugby Football Union said it would be meeting with Vunipola, like Folau of Tongan heritage, to discuss his comments.

"Rugby is an inclusive sport and we do not support these views. We will be meeting with Billy to discuss his social media posts," an RFU spokeswoman said.

Vunipola's mother is Iesinga Vunipola, a Methodist minister, and the 26-year-old has repeatedly spoken of the strength he draws from his faith.

His recent career has been interrupted by a series of significant injuries but he appeared throughout England's recent Six Nations campaign.

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