The St George Illawarra Dragons NRL Club have “ceased” plans to pursue and sign up Israel Folau after backlash over their decision.
This week, club bosses confirmed they were in talks with Folau to have returned to playing NRL this year.
The Dragons also formally approached the NRL for permission to sign him up, prompting backlash.
However on Wednesday night, the Dragons confirmed they’d abandoned talks to recruit Folau.
“St George Illawarra have provided the following update in relation to Israel Folau,” the statement read.
“While the Dragons did enquire about signing Folau, the club can confirm that such discussions have now ceased.
“The Dragons will make no further comment.”
Earlier, gay former rugby player Ian Roberts had blasted the move as a “s**tstorm” waiting to happen.
“At what point did someone at the Dragons think it would be a good idea to invite this s**tstorm into their club?” Roberts asked the Sydney Morning Herald.
“And that’s what it will be. You are welcoming this hurricane of offal.”
NRL club earlier were ‘definitely interested’ in Israel Folau
Israel Folau had his multi-million dollar footy contracts ripped up over his homophobic commentary on social media in 2019.
The devout Christian later sued Rugby Australia for religious discrimination over his sacking. He reached a confidential settlement with them in December 2019.
In January 2020, Folau signed a one-year deal to play for French team the Catalans Dragons.
On Tuesday, Dragons boss Ryan Webb confirmed the club approached the NRL for permission to bring Israel Folau back to Australia to play.
The club were reportedly willing to offer him a two-year contract worth $1million.
“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,” Webb said on Tuesday.
“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.”
But the club’s board met on Wednesday to discuss the backlash. In that meeting they decided not to proceed with discussions.
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