Israel Folau could make a comeback to rugby league in Australia as soon as this weekend on the Gold Coast.
After his high-profile sacking for homophobic social media posts in 2019, Folau joined French pro rugby league club Catalans Dragons last year.
He played more than a dozen matches for them before he returned to Australia due to a sick family member.
Folau now wants to join the amateur club the Southport Tigers on the Gold Coast.
However the Queensland Rugby League wouldn’t make it official because Folau was still under contract with the French club.
The QRL refused to finalise Folau’s registration to play for the Southport Tigers until he was released.
Folau then threatened to take the QRL to court for “unreasonably restraining his trade”.
But on Tuesday, the Dragons confirmed after negotiations Folau was free of the overseas contract with “immediate effect”.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Folau paid $50,000 to make that happen.
The Southport Tigers’ major sponsor, billionaire Clive Palmer, has enthusiastically backed Israel Folau’s Gold Coast comeback.
Palmer said on Tuesday Folau “remains one of the best rugby league players in Queensland and Australia.”
“His absence has been for far too long. All he wants to do is play with his brothers and enjoy the game he loves,” he said.
The Herald reported Israel Folau could make his debut for Southport Tigers as early as this Saturday.
Israel Folau’s new bosses say he must follow code of conduct
Israel Folau hasn’t played in Australia since rugby union bosses Rugby Australia tore up his contract in 2019 over his homophobic social media commentary.
The devout Christian sued the code for religious discrimination over his sacking.
He reached a confidential multi-million dollar settlement with Rugby Australia in December 2019.
Earlier this year, the QRL “acknowledged that previous social media comments made by Folau, whilst not a registered participant in rugby league at the time, do not align to the beliefs of the game, or the QRL.”
“The QRL is an inclusive organisation with a proud diversity and inclusion framework,” a spokesperson said.
“Any registration is subject to Folau confirming he has read and understood his obligations as a player under the QRL Rules [and] the QRL Code of Conduct.
“Any breach of the code of conduct could lead to suspension, or the cancellation of the player’s registration, as it would for any other player.”
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