Catalans weighing up legal action against Folau

Super League club Catalans Dragons are weighing up taking legal action against Israel Folau after the former dual-code international announced he was on the verge of a new rugby league venture in Australia.

The 32-year-old former Kangaroo and Wallaby was given compassionate leave by the France-based club early this year amid a family member’s battle with ill health, but he remains contracted to the Dragons for the 2021 season.

Folau on Friday joined forces with controversial billionaire Clive Palmer to announce he’d signed with the Southport Tigers in the Queensland Rugby League (QRL) competition.

But the QRL is yet to sign off on Folau’s application and the governing body said in a statement that it was considering the submission “in line with its rules and processes that govern the registration of players”.

Catalans football manager Alex Chan said he was alarmed to hear of Folau’s attempt at an Australian rugby league comeback.

“Our stance hasn’t changed,” Chan told PA.

“We’ve given Israel and his family time to get back together and make sure that everything is going good and we expected that, once Izzy found some stability, we’ve left the door open.

“We still hold his contract, he’s still a registered player with Catalans Dragons. It was a big shock to see what was put out there.

“We can’t just let things happen like this. I’ve got to meet with the club president and our directors but I’ve already made our legal team aware of the situation that is starting to unfold.

“We need to start being pro-active from our end in case things start to escalate and go nasty.”

Folau’s Rugby Australia contract with the Wallabies and Waratahs was ripped to shreds in May 2019 after the former GWS Giants experiment posted a homophobic comment on social media.

The former Queensland State of Origin centre then signed with Catalans in January 2020.

Folau was hoping to make an NRL comeback with the St George Illawarra Dragons this season, but the club aborted that mission amid backlash from fans and sponsors.

Chan said Catalans still had hope of Folau returning to see out the remainder of his contract.

“We’re missing Izzy in our team. We checked and recruited him and we retained him because we started building a team capable of winning the championship around players like him,” Chan said.

“We’re still ambitious to get Izzy to return to France and pick up the season with us.”

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