Israel Folau speaks with Sky Sports following his move to Catalans.
Israel Folau speaks with Sky Sports following his move to Catalans.

Folau speaks as Catalans face legal threat

ISRAEL Folau has spoken publicly for the first time since he signed with the Catalans Dragons, as a rival Super League club threatens legal action over the cross-code star's move.

But Folau, 30, robbed journalists of the chance to question his move and settlement with Rugby Australia.

Instead Sky News aired an interview with Folau where he said he was "super excited" to join the Super League and did not discuss the comments he made on social media that ended his Waratahs and Wallabies career.

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"I'm here to compete and play some good footy," Folau said.

"I miss that team camaraderie, the team environment and being around teammates," he said.

Folau, a devout Christian, was sacked in May by Rugby Australia over a social media post warning "hell awaits" gay people.

It seems that Folau could not avoid controversy altogether though, as chairman of the Super League side Hull Kingston Rovers Neil Hudgell "put the Dragons on notice".

Mr Hudgell threatened legal action in an email to the Dragons if his club lost any sponsors, "if external investment is not secured" or if the Super League brand suffered "quantifiable reputational damage", the BBC reported.

Other clubs in the Super League reportedly said they also supported Mr Hudgell's position and may consider legal action if they lose money by Folau being associated with the brand.

Despite the Super League's position, Folau said in his interview that he was looking forward to playing rugby league again.

"I'm excited to be playing the game I grew up playing," he said.

"I think it's been 10 years since I played rugby league and I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of a great organisation and a great team in the Catalan Dragons," he said.

"I look forward to getting out there and playing alongside the boys."

The Super League and Rugby Football League both released statements that they would not prevent Folau from joining the French side.

"This is a difficult decision, as the RFL places a high value on the sport's reputation in prioritising inclusion and diversity - and deplores the player's previous comments," the RFL said.

Catalans have been widely criticised for the move. Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images.
Catalans have been widely criticised for the move. Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images.

"However distasteful his previous comments, we don't believe that, under our current regulatory framework, these can prevent his participation in the sport."

Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone said he "deplores" Folau's past statements "which squarely contradict our sport's core values".

"I have sought the opinion of informed voices connected to our game, and the majority share my disappointment that one of our clubs has chosen to sign him.

"There is a strong feeling that the decision to sign him lets down many people connected to our sport.

"I made Catalans Dragons aware of those views."



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