Israel Folau is reportedly willing to avoid making controversial religious social media posts as part of a potential deal to return to the NRL with St George Illawarra.
It emerged on Tuesday that a potential return to the NRL, a league Folau hasn’t played in since 2010, was on the cards after the Sydney Morning Herald reported St George Illawarra had submitted a formal application to the league to sign the 31-year-old.
Folau is currently signed with French Super League club Catalans through the end of the 2021 season.
According to the SMH, Folau signed a similar agreement with Catalans. with the report suggesting he had ‘learned his lesson’ and was willing to keep his religious views to himself.
The former Wallabies star had his contract with Rugby Australia terminated in 2019 over a homphobic Instagram post where Folau suggested ‘hell awaits’ gay people.
This kicked off a lengthy legal saga, which ultimately ended in Rugby Australia reaching a confidential settlement wth Folau.
St George Illawarra chief executive James Webb said the NRL would need to approve any potential deal with Folau.
“We are always on the lookout for great players,” Webb said.
“We have enquired with the NRL about Israel and we will work with them to hopefully see him join us in 2021. 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.”
Catalans continuing talks with Israel Folau
Catalans Dragons say they remain in constant dialogue with Israel Folau as speculation over his departure from the Super League club intensifies.
The French club is close to confirming the signing of New Zealand Test centre Dean Whare but that is not linked to the Folau situation and he will be a straight replacement for David Mead.
Folau returned to Australia at the end of last season with his wife and newborn baby and has yet to report back to Perpignan ahead of the 2021 season, largely due to pressing family matters.
The longer Folau remains in Australia, the more likely it is that he will end his spell in Super League but Dragons coach Steve McNamara has dismissed reports the former Wallaby has cut off contact with the club.
"I'm in constant dialogue with Izzy," McNamara said. "Nothing has changed on that front for either of us. We are in constant dialogue over the whole situation."
A statement issued by the Catalans in January said: "The club and Israel Folau have been in constant dialogue since Christmas regarding a personal family situation. This, along with COVID restrictions, are currently preventing his return to France."
St George Illawarra are thought to have been talking to Folau since before Christmas with an eye to bringing him back to Australia to play under new coach Anthony Griffin.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.