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Rugby league option opens up for Israel Folau as he faces sacking from Rugby Australia

RugbyPass logo RugbyPass 16/04/2019 Online Editors
a close up of a game: Rugby league option opens up for Israel Folau as he faces sacking from Rugby Australia © Getty Images/Jono Searle Rugby league option opens up for Israel Folau as he faces sacking from Rugby Australia

A potential new destination has opened in Israel Folau’s code-hopping sporting career as English rugby league has left its door open for the disgraced 30-year-old Australian.

Folau’s rugby union career is hanging by a thread after a social media outburst last week saw the 73-test Wallabies utility back condemn all gay people to hell.

He expressed similar views in April last year on Instagram, and was formally warned by Rugby Australia and New South Wales Rugby Union officials at the time.

However, his posts last week has forced RA chief executive Raelene Castle and NSWRU boss Andrew Hore to issue a contract termination notice on Monday, of which Folau has to respond to by Wednesday afternoon.

Having started his professional sporting career with the Melbourne Storm in rugby league as a 17-year-old in 2007, Folau made a name for himself over a four-season span in the NRL with both the Brisbane Broncos and the Storm, as well as Queensland and Australia.

That led many to suggest that a switch back to the 13-man code could follow should Folau be sacked, but the Australian Rugby League Commission has said he is unwelcome to return to the competition after a nine-year absence.

While the NRL has ruled out a return for Folau, the Super League and the Rugby Football League have both refused to rule out the possibility of allowing the star player to move north and ply his trade in English rugby league.

An RFL spokesman told The Sun: “The RFL Board has ultimate discretion to refuse to register a player where it may bring the game into disrepute or he has been deregistered by any other governing body.”

A statement from the Super League, the English equivalent of the NRL, followed, which read: “Player registrations are a governing body issue and we will continue to work with the RFL to ensure the integrity of the competition is maintained.”

Earlier this year, both the RFL and the Super League confirmed they would not allow disgraced rugby league and former Toulon star Ben Barba, who won the Man of Steel award last year for the Super League’s best player, back into their system after he was booted from the North Queensland Cowboys and the NRL for allegedly assaulting his partner.

However, they are yet to take a similar stance on Folau, who posted an image on Instagram saying that “hell awaits” for drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, and idolaters, as well as posting on Twitter that “the devil has blinded so many people” in response to Tasmania becoming the first Australian state to make gender optional on birth certificates.

That allows him an avenue to move to a Super League club should any come calling with a contract offer, although the RFL has the final say on player registrations.

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