Shamed Wallabies full-back Israel Folau has signed a one-year contract to join Super League club Catalan Dragons.
Folau had his contract with Rugby Australia (RA) and the Waratahs terminated last May for homophobic comments posted online.
A legal battle ensued with Folau demanding RA pay AUD$14m (£7.3m) in damages for lost income. A situation which resulted in RA settling with Australia’s all-time leading tryscorer.
Folau has been without a club throughout this period, but it now appears just two days before the start of the Super League season that Catalan Dragons will announce the signing of the controversial full-back.
The Perpignan-based club are understood to have an ironclad agreement that Folau will not breathe a word of his devout Christian beliefs which caused him to miss the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
“We want to give Israel a new opportunity to shine on the pitch,” Catalans Dragons chairman Bernard Guasch said.
“We do not support or agree with Israel’s previously expressed and controversial views which are based upon his sincerely held religious belief. We do not share or condone those views and we are totally committed to our club and our sport being open and welcoming to everyone.
“We do not believe that those views should be publicly expressed, especially by a high-profile sports person. We have a signed agreement with the RFL. Any transgression will trigger an immediate termination of Israel’s contract and a substantial fine for the club.”
It means Folau returns to the code where his rugby career began at the age of 17, scoring 73 tries in 91 NRL games for Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos.
Folau said: “I look forward to my return to the great game of rugby league with the Catalans Dragons.”
“I’m a proud Christian, my beliefs are personal, my intention is not to hurt anyone and I will not be making further public comment about them.”
He will now face former Bledisloe Cup rival Sonny Bill Williams in code, with the former All Blacks now playing for the Toronto Wolfpack.
The two, who hold a combined 131 caps at Test level, will meet on April 11 when the Wolfpack fly over to south-west France.
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