'Unfairly punished': Billionaire Clive Palmer confirms Israel Folau's signing

·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Clive Palmer (pictured right) sits next Israel Folau (pictured left) in a media conference for the Southport Tigers.
Clive Palmer (pictured right) has announced the signing of Israel Folau (pictured left) for the Southport Tigers. (Image: Twitter)

Israel Folau and Clive Palmer have announced the cross-code athlete has signed for the Southport Tigers and is waiting for approval from Queensland Rugby League to make his debut next week.

On Thursday night, it emerged Folau had launched a shock application to return to rugby league on the Gold Coast and had the backing of mining billionaire Palmer.

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And on Friday morning, the pair fronted the press and Palmer confirmed Folau could make his return as early as next week, pending approval from the governing body.

"Currently Israel has signed his contract with the Tigers and he has clearance from the Broncos, which is the last Australian club he played for in this confederation," Palmer said.

Folau will be expected to link up with his two brothers who play for the Southport Tigers.

"I am excited to be here and link up with Clive, the opportunity he has given me and my family, through Minerolagy and the Southport Tigers, is something I am very grateful for," Folau said.

"I am grateful to get back onto the field, put the boots back on, and play some football with my family. I am excited."

Palmer said the idea of signing Folau emerged when the cross-code player's brothers approached him.

Israel Folau and Clive Palmer speak to the media during a press conference at the Hilton Hotel on May 21, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia.
Israel Folau and Clive Palmer speak to the media during a press conference at the Hilton Hotel on May 21, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The billionaire mining magnate said Folau has the full support of the club.

"Rugby League used to be about community involvement, and unfortunately the game has developed into a money machine...and some of those values have been lost.

"I think it is a wonderful thing Israel can come back and play with his brothers at community level."

Israel Folau's bizarre press conference

Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 over social media posts deemed homophobic by the code's governing body.

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 in the media release for the press conference, it stated that the Tigers saw Folau as the 'best player in the world' and he was 'unfairly punished'.

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The cross-code athlete was questioned on his social media comments in 2019 during the press conference.

The media conference took a bizarre turn when one reporter asked about his previous social media posts, which Folau claimed: "I stand by the Bible and what the Bible says."

Palmer hit back and said the questions weren't related to rugby league, before he claimed social media was controlled by the United States.

The billionaire mining magnate warned anyone who was thinking of legally opposing Folau's signing would have to deal with his resources and nobody should try and block his return.

Folau will be looking to make his return to Australian Rugby League in Round 4 of the local competition.

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