‘Incredible athlete’ Folau can cut it in Super League, says McNamara

Steve McNamara has admitted Catalans knew their signing of Israel Folau would garner attention.

The Dragons have come in for heavy criticism after signing Folau following his anti-LGBT+ comments.

“We knew it would be controversial,” McNamara said.

“As an individual, I stand by the club statement that Bernard Guasch issued on the signing of Israel and I fully support that statement.

“An opportunity arose, Brayden Wiliame left our club, one of our overseas players who when to play in the NRL. We needed an outside back. We looked in France, England and overseas. We went down the route of investigating a fair few players, Israel’s name was on that list.

“Having spent a lot of time speaking to him and understanding him a lot more, and getting the reassurances we did, we made a decision as a club that we would support the signing of Israel and give him another opportunity in our game.”

McNamara has no questions over Folau’s talent, and ability to make the return to the 13-man game after a decade away.

“It’s a huge challenge for him. The game has changed significantly over the period of time he’s been away and playing rugby union. Everyone understands what an incredible athlete and sportsman he is. But I think for a top-end sportsman, the idea of a new challenge is what inspires them and makes them the players they are.

“He’s an attacking threat, it’s clear to see, you look at any of the highlights of both his rugby league and rugby union carrer, he’s an amazing attacking weapon and I’m sure he’s going to bring plenty of excitement to the team.

“He’s not trained with a team for a long period of time, he’s not played rugby league for a long period of time, we’ve got to show patience in that area. But when you watch him train, move and run you can see the special athletic qualities that he does possess.”