Israel Folau will need to sign a strict social media clause in his St George Illawarra contract if he is allowed to play NRL again.
The 31-year-old had his Wallabies and Super Rugby contracts ripped in 2019 after claiming ‘hell awaits’ gay people in a now-infamous Instagram post.
Dragons boss Ryan Webb on Tuesday confirmed the club formally applied to the NRL to allow them to sign Folau on a two-year contract worth $1million.
Given Folau’s history of sharing offensive remarks online, the club has created guidelines regarding public comments.
Mr Webb said the club is ‘comfortable’ that Folau would abide by his contract.
Israel Folau will need to sign a strict social media clause in his St George Illawarra contract if he is allowed to play NRL again. Pictured with his wife Maria
Given Folau’s history of sharing offensive remarks online, the Dragons have created guidelines regarding public comments
Israel Folau and his wife Maria. St George Illawarra Dragons CEO Ryan Webb confirmed the club formally applied to the NRL to allow them to sign Folau on a two-year contract on Tuesday
‘If the NRL agreed to the contract we would have precautions in place to make sure we mitigate risk,’ Webb said according to The Daily Telegraph.
‘Every conversation we’ve ever had with him indicate we don’t think the same controversies would arise.
‘We are genuinely interested in having him join the club, We’ve spoken to key stakeholders internally and now we will ask the NRL if they will consider registering his contract.’
The NRL is now speaking to relevant parties and reviewing the proposal before deciding if Folau will be allowed to play.
‘We are always on the lookout for great players,’ Mr Webb told the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘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.’
Mr Webb made a phone call to NRL boss Andrew Abdo in early January with a request to sign Folau.
Abdo then reportedly rang ARLC chairman Peter V’landys, who concluded that Folau deserves to go through due process before the NRL makes their decision.
The Dragons club board has reportedly approved the move to sign Folau and they have informed their sponsors such as St George Bank and Jeep.
It’s understood Wests Tigers also expressed interest in the dual international in May last year.
‘Wests Tigers were just feeling out the situation. It didn’t go too far and nothing will come of it,’ a source close to Folau told the Daily Telegraph.
Folau signed a new one-year contract with French club Catalans Dragons in June 2020 but returned to Australia after the birth of his first child this summer.
He had his $4 million Wallabies contract ripped up in May 2019 after he twice uploaded religious posts which Rugby Australia found homophobic.
The 31-year-old had his Wallabies and Super Rugby contracts ripped in 2019 after claiming ‘hell awaits’ gay people on a now-infamous Instagram post
Folau at a recovery session with the Wallabies in 2013. He had his $4 million Wallabies contract ripped up in May 2019 after he twice uploaded religious posts which Rugby Australia found homophobic
Folau’s post from 2019 read: ‘Hell awaits drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators.’
He captioned the picture with: ‘Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him’.
A year easier, Folau made a post about ‘God’s plan’, prompting one commenter to ask: ‘What was gods plan for gay people??’
‘HELL… Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God,’ Folau replied at the time.
Folau claimed he was discriminated against on religious grounds and commenced Fair Work proceedings against Rugby Australia.
With the help of the Australian Christian Lobby, Folau was able to raise more than $2.1 million within a matter of days for his case before donations were suspended.
‘You may not agree with me but thank you for your support,’ Folau posted on at the time.
‘To those who have criticised me, I bear no ill will towards you. You have every right to express your own beliefs and opinions.’
Folau and his wife Maria. The couple welcomed their first child over the summer
Folau and Rugby Australia were unable to reach a settlement with his former employer and they eventually reached a confidential settlement in December 2019, which included an apology to Folau from Rugby Australia.
ARLC chairman Peter V’landys has previously made his views known on the saga.
‘The game is inclusive. Israel’s comments are not inclusive,’ V’landys told reporters in November 2019.
‘When I was a kid and kids used to get bashed up because they were different, I used to go and defend them. And a lot of them, it’s because their role models or their peers made them that way.
‘With due respect to Israel, what he says, young kids listen to. He is a role model. They act on it. And when you’re a kid at school and you get bashed up because you’re different, I don’t think that’s a good thing.’
Whether the league will change its tune 18 months later will be hotly debated by powerbrokers over coming weeks.
Folau signed a new one-year contract with French club Catalans Dragons (Pictured) in June 2020 but returned to Australia after the birth of his first child in the summer