Israel Folau set for return to Australia as an NRL club pushes for ex-Wallabies star's signature
Controversial cross-code star Israel Folau is on the verge of an NRL comeback.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, St George Illawarra have formally approached the NRL in the hope of signing the former Wallaby on a two-year deal.
Although NRL boss Peter V’landys has previously said the door was shut to Folau, the NRL has indicated its intention to review the proposal before making a decision.
When V’landys was appointed as chair of the commission, he said Folau’s views didn’t align with those of the game.
“The game is inclusive. Israel’s comments are not inclusive,” V’landys said at the time. “When I was a kid and kids used to get bashed up because they were different, I used to go and defend them. And a lot of them, it’s because their role models or their peers made them that way.
“I have no tolerance for people that put other people’s lives [at risk] or [commit] violence. It’s a big statement to make. With due respect to Israel, what he says, young kids listen to. He is a role model. They act on it. And when you’re a kid at school and you get bashed up because you’re different, I don’t think that’s a good thing.”
But St George Illawarra chief executive Ryan Webb confirmed the club was in the process of luring Folau to the Dragons.
“We are always on the lookout for great players,” Webb told the Sydney Herald. “We have enquired with the NRL about Israel and we will work with them to hopefully see him join us in 2021.
“We understand there will be a range of opinions in regards to this decision, but we believe he would be a good addition to our club.”
NRL.com reports that no formal offer has yet to be tabled by the Dragons for Folau, but the club have sent the NRL a proposal containing “strict stipulations around Folau’s public and social media comments”.
NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo confirmed that the NRL will consider any interest from clubs regarding Folau.
Earlier this year, Folau was linked with a move back to rugby union following his split with Australian Rugby in 2019 after he repeatedly posted what were perceived as homophobic religious memes to social media platforms.
He was fired and then took Rugby Australia to court and settled on a multi-million dollar payout.
Folau was set to finish his Catalan Dragons contract in the Super League this year but returned home after the birth of his first child.
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