Ireland international rugby player Bundee Aki has apologised for clicking "like" on a homophobic post on social media.
Aki posted an explanation on his Instagram account following criticism for apparently showing support for a bigoted post by Australian international Israel Folau.
Folau has come under heavy criticism over the past two weeks since he wrote on Instagram that "hell awaits you" for "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters".
"Repent, only Jesus saves you," the post said.Breach
Folau has been issued with a breach of contract notice by Rugby Australia and will face a code of conduct hearing on May 4.
England's Billy Vunipola was also reprimanded after he posted a message in support of Folau.
Rugby fans then noticed that Aki had initially "liked" the original post.
"I just want to address that I mistakenly liked Israel Folau's post without paying any attention to the content," he said yesterday.
"When I realised what the post was about I immediately un-liked it straight away, as it does not reflect my views as a Christian.
"Yes, I do believe in God, but my belief is that he is a God of kindness, peace and loves people in all aspects," he said.
Aki then referred to the fact that there were people close to him who are gay.
"I have family members, friends, and I have worked with many people who are gay and I have nothing but love and respect for every one of them," he said.
"I want to apologise for any offence this may have caused, and I will pay more attention to what I 'like' in future."
England and Saracens No 8 Vunipola, however, has refused to apologise.
In an apparent show of support for Folau, he also wrote an Instagram post.
"Man was made for woman to procreate. That was the goal, no?" he said. But the Australian-born Vunipola insisted: "I don't HATE anyone."
He added: "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.
"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?
"I'm not perfect. I'm at least everything on that list at least at one point in my life. It hurts to know that."
An RFU spokesman said: ''Rugby is an inclusive sport and we do not support these views.''