Catalans only deserve ‘limited sympathy’ for Israel Folau saga

The arrival of Israel Folau at Catalans Dragons caused much controversy, and his planned exit is proving to be the same.

Folau, 32, is trying to force a move to Queensland Rugby League side Southport Tigers, despite being on-contract in France for the 2021 season.

The former Australia international was granted compassionate leave by Catalans due to a close family illness, but they were left shocked when he was unveiled as signing for the Tigers earlier this month.

Now Folau is threatening legal action against QRL alleging discrimination, after the league refused to register him to play until he secures a release from his deal with the Super League club.

His signing for Catalans was met with much criticism, with clubs even threatening legal action if his arrival led to the loss of sponsors.

Shortly after his signing, Wigan announced that their match against Catalans would be “Pride Day”, although due to the pandemic, Folau only played one game in England – away at Hull in March 2020.

James Warrener, editor of the UK Dragons fansite, said: “We took a bit of stick for our strong stance on Israel Folau.

“We raised money for DE&I charity and boycotted club merchandise to show our disapproval at the club signing Folau.

“There were people who defended the clubs right to sign him and the players right to play. We respected that view, even if it didn’t align with ours.

“And whilst we could look smugly at them right now and utter the words ‘told you so’, that wouldn’t be helpful.

“One thing we will remain firm on is that the club deserves limited amounts of sympathy now that he has downed tools and decided to head to the court room (yet again).

“This was always going to end in tears.”

It remains to be seen whether Catalans will reach an agreement with Folau to leave, with General Manager Alex Chan saying they were still open to his possible return.

Israel Folau (4) of Catalans Dragons celebrates his try

If the Dragons don’t release his registration, which they are under no obligation to do so given he’s under contract until the season’s end, it will simply depend on whichever league Folau tries to sign with.

Warrener added: “Signing Folau was on a whole different level and will now be seen as a disaster.

“We would like to think that he will be officially gone from our club as soon as contracts and severence allow and that we as fans can move on from this.

“The club should learn from this and not jump in straight away to try and re-ignite the careers of the wayward fading stars from down under.”

Folau scored five tries in 15 appearances for Catalans last season, only playing in front of fans on six occasions.

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