A return to rugby union is now looking unlikely for Israel Folau, as the NRL’s St. George Illawarra Dragons have confirmed their interest in signing the ex-Wallaby.
French publication Midi Olympique had reported that three Top 14 clubs – Bayonne, Montpellier and Toulon – were interested in signing the Australian ahead of next season.
The former Wallaby was sacked by Rugby Australia in May 2019 following a number of social media posts that were deemed to be homophobic, ending his career with Australia and the New South Wales Waratahs.
— NRL (@NRL) February 2, 2021
Folau is currently contracted to Super League side the Catalan Dragons in Perpignan, and while it looks like he will remain playing rugby league he is set to return to Australia.
St. George Illawarra CEO Ryan Webb confirmed to the NRL that the New South Wales side were interested in signing Folau on a two-year contract.
“We’re definitely interested and we’re talking to Israel. Now we’re working with the NRL to allay any concerns on registering a contract for him.
“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,” Webb said.
The NRL will have to give the go-ahead for Folau to return to the league, with NRL CEO Andrew Abdo saying that fan and sponsor views would be taken into account in regards to the decision.
“Any player or official needs to be registered with the NRL. That registration process involves a number of due diligence matters.
“Of course, you always have to have an open mind and you have to follow due process and you have to be fair and we’ll follow that process.
“Any decision that you make, you need to think about the fans, you need to think about your investors and sponsors and all of that will be taken into account. But ultimately it’s the NRL’s decision,” Abdo said.