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Dragons release Israel Folau, door open for rugby league return

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29th June, 2021
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Israel Folau will be free to resume his rugby league career on the Gold Coast after Catalans Dragons agreed to release controversial dual-code international.

The 32-year-old former Melbourne and Brisbane NRL centre had threatened legal action against the Queensland Rugby League after it refused to ratify his registration with junior club Southport Tigers because he was still contracted to his Super League club.

Folau began negotiations with the Catalans last week over a release and the club announced on Monday they had come to a settlement.

“Catalans Dragons can confirm Israel Folau will be released from the remainder of his contract with immediate effect,” a club statement read.

Folau, who was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 over homophobic comments he posted on social media, was thrown a lifeline by the French club before the 2020 season, despite opposition from their rival Super League clubs and the governing body.

He played in 15 out of a possible 17 matches last season and agreed a contract extension to the end of 2021 but the Dragons gave him permission to miss the start of this season in order to attend to pressing family matters in Australia.

He was then courted by St George Illawarra and recently attempted to make a comeback with Southport, where his brothers play.

“Israel has been great with us in 2020, both on and off the field, and we wanted to facilitate the negotiations to reach an agreement,” Catalans chairman Bernard Guasch said.

“He told us his desire to play alongside his two brothers and we didn’t want to prevent him.”

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Folau played rugby league for Australia before switching to the AFL in 2011 and jumping codes once again to rugby union in 2013.

© AAP

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