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Folau ready for rugby league return

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13th February, 2020
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Israel Folau has moved a step closer to making his Super League debut after being named in Catalans Dragons’ 21-man squad for Saturday’s match against Castleford in Perpignan.

The 30-year-old former Wallabies and NSW Waratahs star has not played since being sacked by Rugby Australia last May for posting homophobic comments on social media and it is ten years since his last rugby league game.

Being included in a 21-man squad does not guarantee he will play but Folau has had two weeks of training with his new teammates and coach Steve McNamara said this week “he looks in really good shape”.

Folau, who has signed a one-year contract with the French club, is a straight replacement for Brayden Wiliame – who left the club to join St George Illawarra – and will ease an early-season injury crisis among the club’s outside backs.

His likely presence at the Stade Gilbert Brutus will heighten interest in the fixture after Folau’s signing was fiercely opposed by both Super League and the Rugby Football League as well as the majority of clubs.

The RFL said it was powerless to prevent his registration but Super League clubs voted at a meeting a week ago to implement measures to prevent such a controversial signing in future.

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Folau’s inclusion in the squad came as no surprise to Castleford coach Daryl Powell, who says it will take time for the dual-code international to re-adjust to the 13-man game.

“He’s a good player, an outstanding player, it will be interesting to see how he fits back in,” said Powell, whose side were the first to go up against another dual-code international, Sonny Bill Williams, in their opening game of the season against Toronto.

“It does take a bit of time to adjust back to the game when you’ve been out so long. Sonny Bill saw that last week, although it is different when you’re playing in the outside backs.”

© AAP