Catalans Dragons v Castleford Tigers - Betfred Super League
Catalans Dragons v Castleford Tigers - Betfred Super League

Folau poised for shock NRL return

St George Illawarra have formally submitted a request to the NRL to register the contract of wayward star Israel Folau.

Folau is contracted to the Catalans Dragons but is reluctant to return to the Super League club because of personal reasons.

However, St George Illawarra are looking to hand the 31-year-old a career lifeline.

"We are genuinely interest in having him join the club," Dragons boss Ryan Webb told the Daily Telegraph. "We've spoken to key stakeholders internally and now we have asked the NRL if they would consider registering his contract. We expect a range of opinions regarding the decision."

The bombshell phone call came three weeks ago.

St George Illawarra chief executive Ryan Webb rang NRL boss Andrew Abdo with a request to sign controversial footy star Israel Folau.

The NRL was previously against any moves for Folau to return to rugby league because of his homophobic social media posts during his rugby career.

Abdo rang ARLC Commission chairman Peter V'landys as soon as he hung up from Webb to discuss the matter.

V'landys' message was clear: Folau at least deserves due process.

The Dragons will now apply and the commission will weigh up the matter.

Three weeks on and the NRL remains non-committal about Folau's prospects of returning to the NRL.

The Dragons want Folau back in the NRL for the first time since 2010.

Folau, 31, is contracted to the Catalans Dragons but is reluctant to return to the Super League club because of personal reasons.

"We are genuinely interested in having him join the club," Dragons boss Ryan Webb told News Corp.

"We've spoken to key stakeholders internally and now we have asked the NRL if they would consider registering his contract.

"We expect a range of opinions regarding the decision."

While the Dragons have started the process, they are yet to formally lodge a contract with the NRL.

Abdo said "at the moment there's nothing before the NRL or the ARLC to consider."

"If there's a formal application made, there's a registration process and that due process will be followed and considered."

Pressed on whether there was an appetite to have Folau back in the NRL, Abdo said: "Everyone will have an opinion on it ... we will very fair and transparent in that due process.''

Israel Folau has not played in the NRL since 2010. Picture: Darren England
Israel Folau has not played in the NRL since 2010. Picture: Darren England

Folau hasn't played in the NRL since 2010 where he turned out for the Broncos. He was sacked from the Wallabies after various social media posts.

The NRL have previously said Folau would not be welcomed back into the code. Former chairman and current Commissioner Peter Beattie said Folau was banned from playing.

"Israel Folau fails the NRL's inclusiveness culture, which is a policy strongly supported by the ARLC," Beattie said in 2019. "The ARLC therefore would not support his registration to play NRL."

More to come …

Originally published as Folau poised for shock NRL return


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