North Queensland are desperate to sign a marquee fullback but the prospect of Israel Folau coming to the rescue via an NRL return seems unlikely.
Cowboys coach Paul Green was coy on Thursday about whether Folau could be the answer if he became available.
The Cowboys have a big gap to fill after losing former Toulon player Ben Barba (banned) and missing out on Valentine Holmes as his NFL prospects brightened with a chance to impress the New York Jets in coming months.
“He (Folau) hasn’t played a lot of fullback in our game. I think that position in particular has changed a fair bit over the years,” Green told reporters.
“Certainly the good ones have got many strings to the bow. So whether or not Izzy can do that, I don’t know … But he’s certainly a good player.”
Those comments from Green came before a Rugby Australia announced they intended to terminate Folau’s contract.
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Watch: Folau views again court controversy
“Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Rugby Union have made repeated attempts to contact Israel both directly and via his representatives since 6.30pm on Wednesday, and at this point he has failed to communicate directly with either organisation,” a RA statement said.
“Whilst Israel is entitled to his religious beliefs, the way in which he has expressed these beliefs is inconsistent with the values of the sport.
“We want to make it clear that he does not speak for the game with his recent social media posts.”
“Israel has failed to understand that the expectation of him as a Rugby Australia and NSW Waratahs employee is that he cannot share material on social media that condemns, vilifies or discriminates against people on the basis of their sexuality,” the statement continued.
“Rugby is a sport that continuously works to unite people. We want everyone to feel safe and welcome in our game and no vilification based on race, gender, religion or sexuality is acceptable and no language that isolates, divides or insults people based on any of those factors can be tolerated.
“As a code we have made it clear to Israel formally an d repeatedly that any social media posts or commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action.
“In the absence of compelling mitigating factors, it is our intention to terminate his contract.”
The NRL distanced itself from the controversy on Thursday, with CEO Todd Greenberg declining to comment while Folau remains a rugby player.
But Folau’s latest posts indicate he doesn’t intend to be silenced and while Greenberg said last year he could be welcomed back to the sport, he also indicated such posts would be unacceptable.
“I’d be having the one-on-one conversation to talk through how that is being portrayed right now,” Greenberg told the Sydney Morning Herald last April.
“All our athletes have to be careful.
“There are young boys and girls who will read that and find it hard to deal with because Israel has a large profile. That would not have been his intent, but it is very damaging to some people.”
In other news: Former star Wallabies playmaker Matt Giteau is being touted as a potential coach ahead of this year’s World Cup.
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