St George Illawarra have sensationally pulled out of the Israel Folau deal just 24 hours after publicly flagging their intention to sign the dual international.
St George Illawarra have sensationally pulled out of the Israel Folau deal just 24 hours after publicly flagging their intention to sign the dual international.

Sensational backflip puts Folau NRL return on hold

St George Illawarra have sensationally pulled out of the Israel Folau deal just 24 hours after publicly flagging their intention to sign the dual international.

But The Daily Telegraph can reveal Folau still wants to return to the NRL and will continue to hunt for a new club.

The Dragons informed the NRL of the club's decision on Wednesday night after the club's board met and opted against pursing Folau.

It is understood the Dragons were reluctant to again put the club in the spotlight given where it has been in recent season and the lengthy process to get Folau to the club was deemed too risky. There was also some sponsor and fan backlash to the plight. The signs from head office also pointed to a reluctance to allow the 31-year-old back into the game.

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The Dragons board had given the all clear for the club to pursue Folau and discussions were advanced with the parties agreeing on a two year deal worth $1 million and included strict social media rules.

The Dragons were waiting guidance from the NRL who indicated they were going to give Folau every chance to prove he was fit to return.

ARLC chairman Peter V'landys had earlier indicated he was willing to meet with Folau but doubled down on his stance that there is no room in the NRL "for anyone that wants to promote lowering peoples' self-esteem".

"I will meet nobody or see nobody until there is an application," V'landys said.

"I am not going to be party to fishing expeditions. When they make an application, when they try and register a contract, we will go through that like we do every other person."

Peter V'landys has stood his ground on previous comments about Folau’s religious beliefs.
Peter V'landys has stood his ground on previous comments about Folau’s religious beliefs.

 

More than 10,000 people have voted in The Daily Telegraph's online poll asking if Folau should be permitted back into the NRL, with an overwhelming 65 per cent supportive.

As it stands Folau also has a year to run on his current contract with French Super League club Catalan but he is seeking a release on compassionate grounds.

There is no chance Folau will return to France and sources have suggested that clearance is expected in the next 24 to 48 hours.

The ARLC commission will still meet on Thursday where Folau's potential return to the game would have been a talking point.

"As the chairman of the meeting who determines the agenda I am not going to raise it," V'landys said. "And also tomorrow's meeting was always scheduled to consider the financial accounts of the organisation. So it is not a normal commission meeting. It is actually a meeting to approve our annual accounts and that is what we will spend the whole day doing, going through our financial situation which has turned out substantially better than we expected."

Originally published as Sensational backflip puts Folau NRL return on hold


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