Rugby league: St George Illawarra seek permission to sign Israel Folau, assure contract clauses

Should Israel Folau return to the NRL, it won’t be without strict guidelines.

St George Illawarra have reportedly entered discussions with the controversial cross-code star after the club’s board gave the green light to the recruitment plan.

But according to Daily Telegraph, the Dragons are set to insert strict social media clauses in his proposed two-year contract, where Folau will need to agree to guidelines regarding his public comments.

St George Illawarra chief executive Ryan Webb said they were “comfortable” Folau would follow the terms.

“If the NRL agreed to the contract we would have precautions in place to make sure we mitigate risk,” Webb said.

“Every conversation we’ve ever had with him indicate we don’t think the same controversies would arise.

“We are genuinely interested in having him join the club, We’ve spoken to key stakeholders internally and now we will ask the NRL if they will consider registering his contract.”

Folau’s contract with Rugby Australia was torn up in 2019 for repeatedly making homophobic comments on social media, as he said “hell awaits” gay people unless they repent for their “sins”.

Folau sought $14 million in compensation as he launched legal action against RA for wrongful termination and a bitter, drawn-out saga between both parties came to a head in December 2019 when they agreed on a confidential financial settlement.

Unable to play rugby in Australia, Folau headed to France to play the 13-man code for the Catalans Dragons, who compete in the UK Super League. He signed a one-year extension last July to keep him at the club for the 2021 season but with COVID-19 causing havoc around the world, Folau returned to Australia during the summer after his wife Maria gave birth to their first child.

The Dragons have had informal discussions with NRL boss Andrew Abdo but the NRL said they would not make any decisions until official paperwork was submitted.

Abdo said: “If there’s a formal application made, there’s a registration process and that due process will be followed and considered.

“He would be assessed the same as every other player and be given due process around applying for registration if he is offered a playing contract by the Dragons.

“If the Dragons want to do the deal, his application will have to come up and we would do an assessment of it.”, “at the moment there’s nothing before the NRL or the ARLC to consider.”

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