Folau, who last week was sacked by RA after the latest in a string of homophobic social media posts, requested the appeal hearing in an effort to save his rugby union career, despite previously claiming that he was prepared to walk away from the sport if that was “God’s plan” for him.
The 30-year-old has hired experienced lawyer Ramy Qutami to defend his name in the hearing with RA, with Mr Qutami also representing cross-code athlete Jarryd Hayne against his sexual assault allegations as well as NRL player Dylan Walker and convicted fraudster and former mayor Salim Mehajer.
After Folau requested the hearing instead of accepting the contract termination, RA agreed with the sacked New South Wales Waraths full-back for the appeal to take place on Saturday 4 May, but RA have also pencilled in Sunday 5 May should the hearing require a second day.
An RA statement read: “Rugby Australia has today confirmed the Code of Conduct hearing for Wallabies and Waratahs back Israel Folau will commence on Saturday 4 May.
“The hearing will be heard by a three-member panel consisting of John West (Chair), Kate Eastman, and John Boultbee at the Rugby Australia Building in Sydney.”
Mr West will act as the independent appointment on the board, with Ms Eastman joining Justin Gleeson – one of Australia’s best-known lawyers – in representing RA. Mr Boultbee completes the panel as the Rugby Union Players’ Association’s representative.
Folau was found to have committed a “high-level breach” of the governing body’s Professional Players’ Code of Conduct after claiming that “hell awaits” for “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators”.
The Instagram outburst came a year after Folau posted a comment that said gay people will go to “HELL unless they repent”. After the player’s latest homophobic messages, RA took the decision to terminate his contract with the national team and Super Rugby side the Waratahs.
Several of Folau’s past and present teammates have spoken out against his views, while the prospect of him playing at the Rugby World Cup later this year is highly unlikely even if the hearing rules in his favour as head coach Michael Cheika expressed his opinion that it is difficult to select the 73-cap international again because he does not represent the whole of Australia.