Controversial cross-code superstar Israel Folau has reportedly been linked to a return to rugby union.
The three-time John Eales medallist was embroiled in an ugly split from Rugby Australia in 2019 after posting what was perceived as homophobic content on his Instagram account.
Folau then took his craft to the Super League, signing for the Catalans Dragons and flourishing during his maiden season in the 13-a-side tournament.
He needed just six minutes to snare his first try for the club, but the competition was understandably disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
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In July, Folau signed a one-year contract extension with the Dragons, and will stay on at the club for the 2021 season.
“We are delighted that Israel has committed to the Dragons for 2021,” Dragons coach Steve McNamara said at the time.
“The most impressive asset he showed in the short period before the confinement was his willingness to work hard for the team.”
But according to French rugby publication Midi Olympique, several French rugby union clubs are eyeing the former Wallaby.
Toulon and Bayonne are reportedly both interested in luring Folau back to the 15-player code once his contract with the Dragons expires.
It was also rumoured Folau denied an approach from rugby union team Montpellier Herault last year.
Racing 92 back Simon Zebo was less than enthused about the prospect of playing against Folau following speculation about a potential code switch.
“If he is playing opposite me there is nothing I can do. I wouldn’t let my team down by not playing,” Zebo said on RugbyPass Offload.
“I have no time for (Folau’s beliefs), no time for any of his thoughts or things like that. It’s an unbelievably backward type of mentality. It’s such a shame. He’s such a talented guy, a really, really good player but I personally have a serious issue with that. There’s racism, there’s homophobia – these are things that I hold on the same level.
“I have three kids now and if all three of them decided to be gay when they grow up, me and him are going to have serious issues because having a father who plays rugby, they will know who Israel Folau is and they will see all these things – you know the way social media is in this day and age.
“What it could do to people, internally how it could brainwash them into these negative things, basically saying you are going to hell if you’re gay, I have no time for it and it does way more harm than any good that he sees he is trying to do. There are too many people out there that have issues with coming out.”
Although some NRL clubs have expressed interest in Folau since his split with the Wallabies, the league has publicly stated the 31-year-old is not welcome.
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