Super League executives are considering the prospect of Israel Folau playing in the competition after Catalans Dragons expressed their desire to sign the 30-year-old.
The Dragons have been in talks with Folau and are thought to be close to agreeing to terms with the former Australia Test star.
Such is their interest, they have made contact with Super League chief executive Robert Elstone to discuss the prospect of signing Folau, who was sacked by Rugby Australia last year after he said “hell awaits” gay people in a social media post last year.
Elstone has held private discussions on the matter of Folau and is thought to be torn on the prospect of having the centre in the competition. While Elstone is aware of the public backlash his presence in the competition would likely attract due to his controversial views, he is also aware of the exposure the cross-code star would bring alongside Super League’s latest raft of new additions, headed by Sonny Bill Williams.
Ultimately, the decision is not Elstone’s or Super League’s to make. The RFL have the final say on player registrations and have the power to refuse any registration should they believe that player brings the game into disrepute.
However, the RFL would be much more likely to approve Folau’s registrations if it was supported by both Elstone and the Super League clubs, though it’s believed they have yet to be consulted on the matter.
Both the RFL and Super League refused to comment when contacted by TotalRL on Monday.
Folau is an NRL champion, State of Origin winner and World Cup Finalist in the 13-man game and boasts an impressive pedigree in rugby union, ending his spell in the game as Australia’s fourth all-time leading scorer.
Reports in Australia suggest Folau is desperate to remain a professional athlete and wants to return to rugby league.
But NRL chairman Peter V’landys has emphatically dismissed any chance of him returning to the competition.
“The game is inclusive. Israel’s comments are not inclusive,” V’landys said last year.
“I have no tolerance for people that put other people’s lives (at risk) or (commit) violence. It’s a big statement to make.”
That has seen Folau turn to Super League and Catalans, who are on the lookout for a centre following the departure of Brayden Wiliame midway through the off-season.
The club has seen attempts to sign Cronulla centre Josh Dugan end unsuccessfully and now they have set their sights on Folau.
The news will likely come as a surprise to other Super League clubs who aren’t thought to have been contacted on the matter as of Monday evening.
Last year, Warrington chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick said Super League should reject any attempts to register Folau in the competition.
“I understand they are his own personal views, but he needs to keep them to himself and stop spouting that nonsense on social media,” he said.
“Super League should not entertain him and, should it occur, it refuse any requested registration.”