The return of controversial dual international Israel Folau to the NRL will have to wait at least a while longer, with St George Illawarra saying talks have stopped in the club’s bid to bring him back to league.
- St George Illawarra were seeking permission from the NRL to sign Israel Folau
- Folau was sacked from his Rugby Australia contract in 2019 over comments about LGBTQ people and others
- Folau has played for the Melbourne Storm and the Brisbane Broncos in the NRL
Folau lost his rugby union contract two years ago, after making a series of homophobic posts on social media.
The Dragons had been seeking the NRL’s permission to sign the 31-year-old former Kangaroos and Wallabies star, but said “discussions have now ceased”.
Folau made his professional debut in the NRL back in 2007 with the Melbourne Storm, before moving to the Brisbane Broncos.
He left the league altogether to sign with fledgling AFL club the GWS Giants in 2011, where he played two seasons.
From there he moved to rugby union, where he carved out a successful career with the NSW Waratahs and Wallabies, until his eventual sacking in 2019.
On Tuesday, Dragons chief executive Ryan Webb said the team was “definitely interested and we’re talking to Israel”.
“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,” he said.
The Australian Rugby League Commission has repeatedly said Folau’s public remarks about gay people are out of line with the league’s values and standards.
LGBTQ advocacy group Pride In Sport on Tuesday urged the NRL to take a zero–tolerance approach to Folau’s public comments if the signing went through.
“We know that the words and actions of high-profile sports persons have enormous impact on our culture and far-reaching consequences. Their statements have a profound influence on the community — especially young people,” Pride’s national program manager, Beau Newell, said.
“Derogatory and discriminatory remarks about LGBTQ people create division, take away people’s dignity and can contribute to people feeling marginalised, excluded, and inferior.”