'Deeply saddened' - Israel Folau releases statement after being terminated by Rugby Australia

Israel Folau has released a statement after having his contract terminated by Rugby Australia saying he is "deeply saddened".

Folau controversially posted last month on social media that gay people, along with other "sinners," will face damnation unless they repent.

An independent three-person panel today terminated Folau's four-year, $4 million Rugby Australia contract.

In his statement on the matter Folau says: "It has been a privilege and an honour to represent Australia and my home state of New South Wales, playing the game I love.

"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 expressions. The Christian faith has always been part of my life and I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God's words.

"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," the statement ends.

Folau will have 72 hours to appeal and force a second code of conduct hearing.