Wallabies superstar Israel Folau has requested a code of conduct hearing over his breach notice from Rugby Australia (RA) as his multi-million dollar contract hangs in the balance.
Unless successful at the hearing, Folau faces the sack after being issued with a "high-level" breach notice on Monday over controversial social media posts he made on April 10.
"Israel has responded formally today to request a code of conduct hearing which, under the circumstances, was not an unexpected outcome," said RA CEO Raelene Castle..
"We will now work to confirm a date for the hearing as soon as possible."
The hearing process will involve a panel of three - a representative of RA, a representative of the players' union RUPA and someone else approved by both organisations.
Given there are Easter public holidays on Friday and next Monday then Anzac Day next Thursday, it seems unlikely the hearing will be conducted until the following week.
It's understood the hearing would not take place for five days until after the tribunal has been convened.
There's no guarantee the outcome of the hearing will be the final chapter of the saga, as the loser could could consider taking the matter to the courts
The standoff between Folau and his employers comes just five months out from the World Cup in Japan and two months after he signed a four-year contract.
Just a few hours before RA announced Folau had been served with the breach notice, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said he he wouldnt be able to select him him for the World Cup under the circumstances.
The reality of Folau's absence from Australian rugby union fields - at least for the time being - will start to hit home over the next few days.
The Waratahs will on Thursday announce a team with someone else in their No.15 jersey, for Saturday's significant Super Rugby Australian conference derby against Melbourne Rebels.
The NSW Rugby Union last Friday stood Folau down from all player duties with the Waratahs, to whom his younger bother John is contracted.
The RA Integrity Unit deemed that Folau had committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players' Code of Conduct warranting termination of his employment contract.
The religiously-motivated Folau attracted a fresh storm of controversy when he posted on Instagram: "Warning. Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators. Hell awaits you. Repent! Only Jesus saves."
Rugby Australia says that public stance goes against their policy of inclusion.
Castle said Folau was warned formally and repeatedly last year about the expectation of him as a Wallabies and Waratahs player in regards to his social media use, following similar controversial posts.
She has stressed the action taken against Folau is about the issue of responsibilities an employee owes to their employer rather than punishment for his religious beliefs.
As far back as last year, Folau stated he would be prepared to walk away from the sport
"I told Raelene, if she felt the situation had become untenable - that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldn't be worked through, I would walk away from my contract, immediately," Folau said on Players' Voice last year.
Australian Associated Press