All Blacks legend Sir Michael Jones has chimed in about Israel Folau's controversial anti-gay remarks, saying he feels for the under-fire Wallabies star.
Folau has copped a major backlash after commenting online last month that all gay people will go to hell.
The 53-year-old Sir Michael was today elected as a member of New Zealand’s Rugby board.
He said Folau is a close friend and that social media can be a risky tool for high-profile athletes.
"I personally never do social media and I can see the danger in it," said Sir Michael.
"He (Israel) is a good man and he has got a good heart and got a strong faith.
"He's a friend and my heart goes out to him to through this time. At the same time I recognise that in terms of my faith it is a faith very much built on love and grace."
Other related stories:
Most read story: Dear Israel Folau, I’ve already been to hell
Watch: Emotional Matty McLean stands up for LGBT community after Israel Folau's 'bigoted, hateful, homophobic' comments about gay people
TJ Perenara '100% against' Folau's anti-gay comments, says 'Polynesia has been sexually diverse since forever'
Being a Christian himself, Sir Michael says he has family members who are also part of the LGBTI+ community.
"There are members of my family from those communities (LGBTI+) and we love, they are very integral in our lives," he said
Israel Folau with Blues players Eroni Clarke, Jerome Kaino and Michael Jones.
"They are a big part of who we are and I'm sure that Israel has the same scenario too. We have big families, we've got such diverse families in that regard.
"Being able to express yourself is important but doing it respectfully and I suppose with wisdom.
"There needs to be a lot of love and a lot of grace particularly as Christians and people of faith in those spaces."
All Blacks players Brad Weber and TJ Perenara yesterday criticised Folau for his remarks.