Israel Folau: Sacked Australia rugby union back begins training with Catalans

By Andrew AloiaBBC Sport
Israel Folau training with Australia
Israel Folau last played rugby league a decade ago, with a stint playing Australian rules football coming before his move to rugby union

Israel Folau has begun training with Catalans, but the date of his Super League debut remains unclear as he has numerous fitness tests.

The sacked Australia rugby union international has not played a match of any kind for 10 months since writing a homophobic post on social media.

Folau, 30, switched rugby codes with French club Catalans last week.

"He has a lot of fitness tests to pass before he can play," a club spokesperson told BBC Sport.

Folau arrived in Perpignan in the south of France on Sunday, having missed the club's heavy season-opening defeat by Huddersfield on Saturday.

He met his Dragons team-mates on Monday as they had breakfast together before a video analysis session of the home loss.

"He has started with a lot of individual sessions at the moment and will have his first team session in the next few days," the Catalans spokesperson added.

Israel Folau in action for Brisbane Broncos
Israel Folau last played rugby league for the Brisbane Broncos in Australia's NRL

While it has been 10 months since Folau played a game of rugby union, it has been a decade since he played the 13-man game with the Brisbane Broncos in Australia's National Rugby League competition.

He earned representative honours as a Queensland State of Origin player and became an Australia international.

Folau moves to Catalans as a versatile player, who will be capable of playing anywhere from full-back to centre, where he would fill the void left by Brayden Wiliame following his move to St George in the NRL.

But Folau returns to rugby league as a highly controversial figure after he was sacked for saying "hell awaits" gay people in a social media post in April 2019.

Both the Rugby Football League (RFL), the British game's governing body, and Super League said they "deplored" Folau's previous comments and it was "a difficult decision" to allow him into the competition.

The "moral responsibility" for the move, the RFL argued, was on Catalans.

It has been reported that club chairman Bernard Guasch will make a rare appearance at a meeting of Super League clubs in Salford on Wednesday to explain his club's move.

Wigan Warriors, who have made March's home game against Catalans "Pride Day" and invited LGBTQ+ groups to help promote equality in the game, have already said they considered signing the player themselves - although no approach for Folau was made.

Top Stories