Marcelo Montoya challenges Israel Folau.

NRL player Marcelo Montoya has challenged Israel Folau for the title of Australia’s most homophobic footballer after an offensive slur earned him a nomination for The Frownlow Medal.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while NRL star Jarryd Hayne is the most recent recipient.

The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.

Montoya called opposing winger Kyle Feldt a ‘fa//ot’ during a game against the North Queensland Cowboys, and the New Zealand Warriors winger received a four-match ban from the NRL.

Folau is the country’s most famous homophobe after posting notoriously offensive comments on social media which saw him sacked by Rugby Australia and cast out of professional football in Australia.

Montoya, meanwhile, claims the comment was made in the heat of the moment during a game and that he was simply trying to get under Feldt’s skin. Feldt is married with kids and has played years of NRL football, including State of Origin. Did it get under his skin?

The Warriors club pleaded for a reduced sentence from the NRL judiciary, arguing that Montoya is of good character with an unblemished record. They’re obviously forgetting his earlier Fronwlow nomination in 2018 when he was fined $10,000 for his involvement in the Canterbury Bulldogs Mad Monday celebrations.

Has Montoya done enough to steal the title from Folau, and has he done enough to win The Frownlow Medal in 2022?

Image: Ian Hitchcock

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