England rugby star Joe Marler trolls Israel Folau with gay kisses

Rugby stars Joe Marler of Harlequins and Australian player Israel Folau.

England rugby international Joe Marler has been trolling Australian player Israel Folau on Twitter with gay kisses.

The star, who plays for Harlequins and has appeared 59 times for England, tagged Folau in two posts after the Australian player shared anti-gay messages on social media.

Rugby Australia and New South Wales Rugby moved to fire Folau on Thursday (April 11) for the posts.

Both of Marler’s images have attracted thousands of retweets and likes, as well as praise from many users.

Former England teammate James Haskell responded to one of the tweets by writing: “This is the best thing you have ever done.”

Others commenters were similarly enthused, with one tweeting: “I bloody love you Joe Marler ❤ .”

A different person wrote: “I love when big huge terrifying rugby players turn out to be sentimental, soft-hearted and principled on the things that matter.”

The compliments poured in, with users tweeting replies like “top trolling! ” and “Well played young Joseph, very well played. ”

Another tweeter said: “This wins the internet today,” while a different commenter said: “Joe, you absoluteeee legend. #EveryonesGame ️‍ ✊ .”

What did Folau do?

The Australian sportsman posted a “warning” on Instagram on Wednesday (April 10) which told “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters” that “HELL AWAITS YOU” unless they “REPENT!”

On Twitter, he broke more than four months of silence to respond to Tasmania’s trans rights reforms with the caption: “The devil has blinded so many people in this world, REPENT and turn away from your evil ways.

“Turn to Jesus Christ who will set you free.”

The Instagram picture Folau used appears to originate from Bulldog Ministries, an anti-gay religious group in the US whose followers have protested Pride parades in Texas.

The messages were published hours after Tasmania passed sweeping reforms to permit people 16 or older to change their registered gender, removing requirements for transgender people to undergo surgery in order to have their legal gender recognised.

Israel Folau has a history of making anti-LGBT comments

Folau also sparked controversy in 2017 when he came out against marriage equality and said he would vote ‘No’ in Australia’s postal vote.

Folau stood by his stance despite opposition, insisting that it did not mean he was discriminatory. He wrote on Twitter: “I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions.”

However, just months later in April 2018, he prompted outrage by saying gay people were going to hell “unless they repent of their sins.”

A number of other rugby players—and Riverdale star KJ Apa—condemned his comments, but Folau remained defiant, even tweeting a cryptic Bible verse about ‘persecuted’ Christians.

Rugby Australia bosses decided to take no action against the star at the time.