Israel Folau cops brutal blow in bid to return to rugby league

·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
A court date has been set for Israel Folau to seek an injunction against Queensland Rugby League in order to play for the Southport Tigers. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
A court date has been set for Israel Folau to seek an injunction against Queensland Rugby League in order to play for the Southport Tigers. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

A court date has been set for Israel Folau to determine his playing future with Queensland Rugby League.

The former Wallaby's attempt to return to rugby league via a local team on the Gold Coast, bankrolled by former MP Clive Palmer, hit a snag when QRL declared Folau would need to be released by French team Catalans before he could do so.

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Folau will seek an injunction against QRL on July 12 in order to play for the Southport Tigers.

He has "strong advice" the French-based club repudiated its contract by failing to make payments to him after December 2020, a letter from Folau's lawyer contained in court documents says.

Folau has not been included in Catalans' 2021 playing squad and there was nothing budgeted for him in the salary cap, the letter dated May 25 states.

However, the QRL last month claimed it would not accept Folau's registration until it received an official clearance.

Until it was provided by the Dragons, Folau was not entitled to apply for registration as a player, a letter from QRL lawyer John Mullins dated May 26 states.

Mr Mullins' letter also references Folau's controversial 2019 Instagram post that warned "hell awaits" drunks, homosexuals and adulterers among others.

It states "some time" has passed since the comments and the QRL intended to proceed with Folau's registration when the clearance was received.

Any breach of the governing body's code of conduct could mean suspension or cancellation of Folau's registration, the letter said.

Israel Folau's return backed by mining magnate Clive Palmer

The 32-year-old dual international, who had his contract terminated by Rugby Australia (RA) in 2019 after saying "hell awaits" gay people in a social media post, is hoping to play for the Tigers alongside brothers John and Eni in the third-tier competition.

The QRL has previously indicated it would consider Folau's application to be registered "in line with its rules and processes" but Palmer says he'll take legal action if the decision isn't made by the middle of this week.

"Israel doesn't drink, smoke or take drugs. He has never been charged with a criminal offence" Palmer said in a statement released late on Sunday.

"He loves his wife and his son. He has a rugby playing record second to none.

"If he is not registered by Wednesday, I believe he will issue an injunction in the Federal Court of Australia against the QRL for their discrimination against him on religious grounds."

Clive Palmer is bankrolling Israel Folau's attempts to return to rugby league via the Southport Tigers. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Clive Palmer is bankrolling Israel Folau's attempts to return to rugby league via the Southport Tigers. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Folau last played rugby league in Australia in 2010 before pursuing a short-lived AFL career with expansion club GWS and then a rugby union career which included 73 Test appearances for Australia.

He returned to professional rugby league after reaching a legal settlement with RA following his sacking, joining Super League club Catalans in January 2020.

The France-based club have indicated they are considering legal action of their own in the wake of Folau's Southport announcement.

Catalans' football manager Alex Chan said they expected Folau to return at some stage during the year having granted him compassionate leave to deal with family matters in Australia.

Palmer has previously dismissed any suggestion Catalans have a case for compensation.

With AAP

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