Israel Folau: Wigan considered signing sacked rugby union international

The earliest Israel Folau could play for Catalans Dragons is when they open their 2020 Super League season against Huddersfield on Saturday
Israel Folau could make his Catalans Dragons debut when they open their 2020 Super League season against Huddersfield on Saturday

Wigan considered signing Israel Folau but they did not approach the sacked Australia rugby union international, says chairman Ian Lenagan.

The 30-year-old switched back to rugby league with a move to Super League club Catalans Dragons earlier on Tuesday.

Folau was sacked for writing homophobic posts on social media before reaching a settlement with Australia Rugby.

"It did cross our mind, and we have made no approach to Israel Folau," Lenagan told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"We have by now filled our salary cap anyway with very good names, that's the reality."

Folau has signed a one-year deal with the French club, however the Rugby Football League and Super League said they "deplored" Folau's previous comments and said it was "a difficult decision" to allow him into the competition.

Shortly after the deal was released to the public, Wigan announced that their match against Catalans at the DW Stadium on 22 March will be "Pride Day".

The club said they are inviting LGBTQ+ groups to help promote equality in the game.

"[Pride Day] Is a purposeful choice we made today when we heard what had happened," Lenagan went on to tell BBC Sport.

"We felt it was quite important to be proactive, to actually do something even more positively to say to the LGBTQ+ community that we support their environment.

"Rather than being critical of a perceived problem, we thought it was much more important to say 'that is not rugby league, it is a diverse and inclusive sport'."

Folau was sacked for saying "hell awaits" gay people, despite previously being warned over his social media posts.

Asked what Catalans executives thought when informed March's fixture would be a Pride Day fixture, Lenagan said: "At first, because they'd seen it in the press, obviously they thought it might be an antagonistic move.

"By the time I had finished talking to them, they knew it was a positive sign of the respect that rugby league shows to all of the people involved in our game.

"I am hoping and believing, because I know Bernard Guasch rather well, that they will take the positive approach and the right view of respect as an agenda through this particular day."

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