Catalan Dragons have rejected suggestions that Israel Folau is set to make a return to rugby union with a club in the Top 14.
Folau joined the French rugby league side in January last year on a one-year contract, but extended that contract until the end of 2021 last July.
Reports from French publication Midi Olympique had suggested that the Australian was set to make a return to the 15-man code with one of Bayonne, Montpellier or Toulon, but the Dragons have poured cold water on those rumours.
The former Wallaby has been in Australia since the Super League season ended in November last year, but his club have explained that he has not yet returned to France due to family and coronavirus-related reasons.
“The club and Israel Folau have been in constant dialogue since Christmas regarding a personal family situation. This along with Covid restrictions are currently preventing his return to France,” the Dragons said in a statement.
Communiqué du club – Israel Folau
— Dragons Catalans (@DragonsOfficiel) January 20, 2021
The Catalan club’s head coach Steve McNamara backed up the club’s statement, telling the PA news agency that himself and the club are in constant contact with Folau in Australia.
“He’s got a family situation and we’re working together on that. We’re constantly speaking, we’re monitoring the situation as best we can,” McNamara said.
Controversy over Folau’s return
Rumours of Folau’s return to rugby union had already created some discontent among players, with Racing 92 player Simon Zebo stating he would never play in the same team as the Australian.
“Not on the same team, definitely not. If he is playing opposite me there is nothing I can do. I wouldn’t let my team down by not playing.
“I have no time for that [Folau’s beliefs], no time for any of his thoughts or things like that. It’s an unbelievably backward type of mentality. It’s such a shame,” Zebo commented.