Catalans release Folau, free him to play

·2-min read

Israel Folau has been cleared to resume his rugby league career after the controversial dual-code international was granted a release by French club Catalans Dragons.

Following confirmation from Catalans of Folau's release, the Queensland Rugby League announced on Tuesday his registration with Gold Coast club Southport Tigers had been finalised.

Depending on south-east Queensland's COVID situation, it means the 32-year-old former NRL star could make his first Tigers' appearance in the Gold Coast A-Grade competition against Currumbin Eagles on Saturday.

Folau had previously threatened legal action against the QRL after it refused to ratify his registration with the Tigers because he was still contracted to the Super League club.

"The QRL made clear from the outset that Folau would be registered upon completion of the registration process, including the obtaining of a release from his previous overseas club, as per the rules of the game which apply to all players," the QRL said in a statement.

Folau had been negotiating with Catalans in the past week over a release and the club announced on Monday they had come to a settlement.

"Catalans Dragons can confirm Israel Folau will be released from the remainder of his contract with immediate effect," a club statement read.

Sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 over homophobic comments he posted on social media, Folau was thrown a lifeline by the French club before the 2020 season, despite opposition from their rival Super League clubs and the governing body.

He played in 15 out of a possible 17 matches last season and agreed a contract extension to the end of 2021 but the Dragons gave him permission to miss the start of this season in order to attend to pressing family matters in Australia.

He was then courted by St George Illawarra and recently attempted to make a comeback with Southport, where his brothers play.

"Israel has been great with us in 2020, both on and off the field, and we wanted to facilitate the negotiations to reach an agreement," Catalans chairman Bernard Guasch said.

"He told us his desire to play alongside his two brothers and we didn't want to prevent him."

Folau played rugby league for Australia before switching to the AFL in 2011 and jumping codes once again to rugby union in 2013.

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