Israel Folau: Catalans Dragons release former Kangaroo centre who stayed in Australia for 'a personal family situation'
Israel Folau was under contract with Catalans Dragons for 2021; the 32-year-old former Kangaroo and State of Origin centre has lodged an application to the Queensland Rugby League to play in the local Gold Coast competition
By PA Media
Last Updated: 28/06/21 2:13pm
Catalans Dragons have agreed to release controversial dual-code international Israel Folau from the rest of his contract to enable him to resume his career in Australia.
The 32-year-old former Melbourne and Brisbane centre had threatened legal action against the Queensland Rugby League after it refused to ratify his registration with junior club Southport Tigers because he was still contracted to his Super League club.
Folau began negotiations with the Catalans last week over a release and the club announced on Monday they had come to a settlement.
A statement said: "Catalans Dragons can confirm Israel Folau will be released from the remainder of his contract with immediate effect.
"He signed a one-year contract extension for 2021 but announced to the club early this year his decision to stay in Australia for a personal family situation."
Folau, who was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 over homophobic comments he posted on social media, was thrown a lifeline by the French club ahead of the 2020 season, despite opposition from their rival Super League clubs and the governing body.
He played in 15 out of a possible 17 matches last season and agreed a contract extension to the end of 2021 but the Dragons gave him permission to miss the start of the 2021 season in order to attend to pressing family matters in Australia.
He was then courted by St George Illawarrra and recently attempted to make a comeback with Southport, where his brothers play.
Catalans chairman Bernard Guasch said: "Israel has been great with us in 2020, both on and off the field, and we wanted to facilitate the negotiations to reach an agreement.
"He told us his desire to play alongside his two brothers and we didn't want to prevent him. We wish him all the best in the next chapter of his career."