Israel Folau scores on return to Australian rugby league
Israel Folau scored a try on debut for the Southport Tigers, as the controversial multicode footballer made a return to rugby league in the Gold Coast third-tier competition.
Having last played the 13-man game for the Catalans Dragons in the English Super League last year, Folau could have been excused for being rusty but did some good things for the Tigers who downed Runaway Bay 38-28.
Folau beat two defenders and carried another two players over the line with him in a fine finish to a second-half movement and had been unlucky not to score after reeling in a towering bomb in the first half.
The 31-year-old was deemed to have been held up, a decision he concurred with.
Still, he played a strong part in what was an upset win at Owens Park given the Tigers were second-last on the competition ladder.
“It’s always good to get on the scoreboard but I was just happy to blow the cobwebs out,” he told The Courier Mail.
“The support has been amazing. I was just happy to get back on the field.
“I’m just enjoying playing my footy.”
Folau had last played rugby league in Australia in 2010 with the Brisbane Broncos in the NRL.
Plenty of supporters tonight for Israel Folau's debut with the Southport Tigers against Runaway Bay. Izzy got a meat pie, the Tigers got a 10 point win and the huge crowd got treated to a pretty good game of local footy. @9NewsQueensland pic.twitter.com/Vn1seHtJid
— Nick Kelly (@njkelly9) July 10, 2021
He will play out the season with the Tigers before heading to Japan to link with Top League rugby union side NTT Communications on a two-year deal reportedly worth $1.8 million.
While showing his extraordinary capabilities by playing AFL with GWS and rugby union for NSW and Australia as well as having a decorated rugby league career, Folau has also been a divisive figure.
He was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 for his social media posts which had suggested that homosexuals would go to hell.
Later that year he received an apology from the body and a confidential settlement.
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