Keegan Hirst believes Catalans’ signing of Israel Folau is a big backwards step for the sport of rugby league.
The Dragons have signed Folau for the 2020 season, with him being sacked by Rugby Australia for homophobic comments on social media in April, in which he said “hell awaits” gay people.
Hirst, who is the only out gay professional rugby league player, is disappointed that Folau has been allowed to join Super League.
He said: “This is a guy who was rejected by the AFL, the NRL and all the governing bodies in Australia but Catalans are saying ‘come on over’.
“They either don’t care about what he has said or they do care but are willing to park their values and morals for the sake of a few extra tries a year.
“All the work rugby league has done with Women’s Super League and women’s rugby, all the stuff we have done with diversity and inclusion – this one signing has undermined all of those people and their hard work. It has also alienated all the LGBT fans or fans who have any kind of moral backbone.
“On the flip side, it sends out a message that the RFL and Super League approve of bigotry and people who may have been quieter over the last few years, they will now feel empowered to share and vocalise their views.”