Israel Folau: Catalans Dragons rebuff rumours of Australian's departure
Folau has yet to report back after returning to Australia in the off-season, sparking rumours of his departure; Dragons say a family situation and Covid-19 restrictions are currently preventing his return
By PA Media
Last Updated: 20/01/21 7:31pm
Catalans Dragons have shot down reports that dual-code Australian international Israel Folau is set to turn his back on the Super League club.
The 31-year-old returned home at the end of last season with his wife and new-born baby and has yet to report back to the French team.
That prompted speculation the former Wallaby will not honour his contract, which he extended to the end of 2021 last July.
However, Dragons coach Steve McNamara has kept in regular dialogue with Folau and insists he remains committed to the club but needs to remain in Australia for personal reasons as well as restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
"He's got a family situation and we're working together on that," McNamara said. "We're constantly speaking, we're monitoring the situation as best we can."
A statement from the Dragons added: "The club and Israel Folau have been in constant dialogue since Christmas regarding a personal family situation.
"This, along with Covid restrictions, are currently preventing his return to France."
He's got a family situation and we're working together on that. We're constantly speaking, we're monitoring the situation as best we can.
Steve McNamara on Israel Folau
The controversial centre initially joined the Catalans on a 12-month deal, despite opposition from both Super League and a majority of clubs after he posted homophobic comments on social media.
Folau's contract with Rugby Australia was terminated in 2019 after he said "hell awaits" gay people in a social media post. He subsequently took legal action and reached a settlement.
He was thrown a lifeline by the Perpignan-based Dragons and, after scoring on his Super League debut last February, played a key role as they reached the play-off semi-finals.
The Catalans players have yet to report back for training after the schedule was put on hold due to heightened Covid-19 restrictions.