Israel Folau and wife's $1.5m move amid potential return to NRL

·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Maria and Israel Folau, pictured here at Victoria Derby Day in 2017.
Maria and Israel Folau at Victoria Derby Day in 2017. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images for the VRC)

Israel Folau and wife Maria have reportedly bought a $1.5 million property outside of Brisbane, increasing speculation that he's eyeing a return to the NRL through the Queensland Cup.

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.

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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, opening up a potential "back door" for Folau if the NRL ever changes its mind.

And if Folau's real estate portfolio is anything to go by, the Queensland Cup option appears to be moving closer to reality.

According to realestate.com, Folau and wife Maria have now bought acreage just outside Brisbane.

"Folau and his wife Maria, the former netball star, have quietly spent $1.5 million on a four hectare estate at Pullenvale, the affluent acreage suburb west of the city," Jonathan Chancellor reports.

Christian lobby calls for Folau's return to NRL

Last month the 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!"

Maria and Israel Folau, pictured here leaving Federal Court after a meeting with Rugby Australia.
Maria and Israel Folau leave Federal Court after a meeting with Rugby Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

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.

with Reuters

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