The National Rugby League has shut down online critics after posting an image of two opposing female State of Origin players kissing.
The photo of couple Karina Brown and Vanessa Foliaki was shared to social media on Friday night after NSW’s 16-10 victory over Queensland at North Sydney Oval and prompted a series of comments from angry fans.
Brown, the Queensland State of Origin captain, has been dating NSW lock Foliaki since 2014 after pair were selected to play for the Australian Jillaroos representative side.
And while many fans gushed over the image of the couple embracing, some suggested the NRL shouldn’t have shared the picture.
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“Keep it off the field and let your football do the talking. Bad move NRL, there may be young girls coming through put off by this,” one Facebook user said, garnering over 4000 likes in the process.
However the NRL hit back telling the commenter “Welcome to 2018! Can’t wait for you to join us!”
Another comment suggested the NRL was “already sexualising the women’s league”, taking “one step forward three steps back”.
But in defence of the image, the NRL suggested if they can share a similar image of a heterosexual couple, they should be able to do the same with Brown and Foliaki.
If we can post a (photo) of Cooper Cronk and his wife Tara kissing, then we can share a photo of Karina Brown and Ness Foliaki sharing a moment too.”
The pair had said before the game the match-up would be the biggest challenge of their relationship so far.
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And despite the negative comments online, the couple insist the support from the world of rugby has been overwhelming.
“I think it’s more accepted now and the Jillaroos make it feel like home. The coaching staff are supportive. We’re feeling all the love,” Foliaki told NRL.com.
“Everyone wants us to get married.”