Israel Folau has launched a shock application to return to rugby league on the Gold Coast and has the backing of billionaire Clive Palmer.
The maligned cross-code star has reportedly lodged a formal application wth Queensland Rugby League to play in the local Gold Coast competition, according to The Courier Mail.
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Folau is bidding for a return with the Southport Tigers, which Palmer - a billionaire mining magnate and former politician - is associated with, according to the publication.
Folau and Palmer have announced a media conference for Friday.
Christian Lobby calls for Folau's NRL return
In February the NRL rejected a formal application from the Dragons to sign Folau, with ARL Commission Chairman Peter V'Landys previously saying he's not welcome in the game.
But last month The Courier Mail reported that the NRL would not interfere if a club in the Queensland Cup (the NRL's second tier competition) signed Folau.
The NRL reportedly has no jurisdiction to block players from signing with teams in the Queensland Cup, or the Gold Coast local league it seems.
Last month the Australian Christian Lobby launched a media campaign calling for Folau to be allowed to return to the NRL.
Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 over social media posts deemed homophobic by the code's governing body.
A return to the NRL with the Dragons was scuppered in February after news of negotiations sparked a backlash from LGBT rights groups, fans and sponsors.
The Australian Christian Lobby placed a full page advertisement in the Daily Telegraph in April calling for the 31-year-old to be able to return to the league where he started his career.
"Those at the top want to punish him forever – even though they allow others to play who have criminal charges and atrocious personal conduct," read the advert, which urged fans to contact the NRL.
"This double standard is wrong!"
V'Landys said Folau would be treated like any other player and the issue of him returning to the NRL was academic until a club made an application to sign him.
"This Christian Lobby with their full-page ads basically are wasting their resources and money because there is no application," he said.
"Any player has to have a contract with a club and the necessary registration application to go with it. We have neither of those."
Folau, a fundamentalist Christian, had his Wallabies and Super Rugby deals terminated in 2019 after he posted a meme that said hell awaited "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers" and others.
He took legal action against Rugby Australia demanding $14 million in compensation, but the case was settled out of court with Folau receiving an undisclosed sum.
He played one season in France with the Catalan Dragons before quitting the Super League club and returning to Australia with his family at the end of last year.
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