The All Black great Sir Michael Jones says he counts Israel Folau as a friend but feels his comments about homosexuals are misplaced.
Sir Michael was today elected to the New Zealand Rugby Union board and says personal beliefs should be expressed with "love and grace"
When asked about Folau and the comments he made saying homosexuals were destined for hell, Sir Michael felt with wisdom Folau may have expressed himself differently.
"In terms of my faith it's very much a faith built on love and grace. There are members of my family from the (gay) community and we love them very much and they are an integral part of our lives and they are a big part of who we are."
"Being able to express yourself is important but (it needs to be done) respectfully and with wisdom," said Sir Michael.
Jones, 53, was voted on to the NZR Board of Directors after being nominated by the Tasman Rugby Football Union.
The 55-Test cap former All Black headed off Dame Annette King in replacing outgoing member Glenn Wahlstrom on the 12-person Board.
NZR Chair Brent Impey said Jones would add considerable mana, knowledge and expertise to the table.
"Sir Michael has already made an immense contribution to New Zealand rugby both as a player at every level, and as a leader in the community.
"His ability to bring people together, to understand different perspectives and different cultures, and to lead through his own actions will be a valuable addition."
Jones received a New Zealand Medal for service to the Pacific Island community in 1997 and was knighted last year for his work in driving economic and social development for Pasifika people in New Zealand, and in the Pacific region.
He is the Chair of the Village Community and Youth Trust, which opened in 2003 to keep young Pacific and Maori people out of gang activity. And in 2010, set up the Village Sports Academy to mentor Pacific students to stay in school.
Jones, who holds the Samoan matai chief titles of Savae and Laauli, and played 74 matches for the All Blacks between 1987 and 1998, including 55 Test matches, said he was humbled by the new role.
"I have been fortunate throughout my life to be involved in rugby which has given me a lot. I am very humbled and privileged to have been elected on to the NZR Board, and I am looking forward to giving back to the game in this capacity," Jones said.