Israel Folau grateful for chance but Super League clubs unhappy

Ross Houston
February 4, 2020

The French Super League club imposed a media blackout after announcing a week ago that the dual-code worldwide - banned by Rugby Australia last May over homophobic comments he made on social media - has signed a 12-month contract with them.

Folau's first appearance for Catalans remains uncertain as rival Super League clubs prepare to hold crisis talks with Dragons chairman, Bernard Guaschm, at a board meeting in Salford on Thursday (NZT).

However, his career has been overshadowed by anti-LGBT+ social media posts which resulted in his contract being terminated by Rugby Australia, though he did reach a settlement with the organisation.

When asked how the Catalans could face financial loss, he added: 'For example, if a title sponsor withdraws or external investment is not secured, or quantifiable reputational damage is caused to the brand of Super League and its members'.

Super League executive chairperson Robert Elstone condemned the move and Wigan declared their home game against the Catalans in March a "Pride Day" in response.

Dragons head coach Steve McNamara told Sky TV that the club knew Folau's signing would be controversial but they had needed to fill a position.

Folau's transfer to the Catalans was met with a wave of criticism following his comments which saw him sacked by Rugby Australia previous year.

After Folau's move to the Catalans was confirmed, the Rugby Football League said that they condone the player's comments in the past but can not prevent him from joining Super League club.

"I'm excited to be back playing the game that I grew up playing", Folau said.

Folau is due to arrive in France next week, and the 30-year-old could make his debut for the Dragons against Wakefield in round two of competition. We went down the route of investigating a fair few players and Israel's name was on the list. "Having spent a lot of time speaking to him and understanding him a lot more and getting reassurances, we made a decision as a club that we would support Israel and give him another opportunity in our game".

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