New signing Israel Folau misses out on Catalans Dragons squad against Wakefield
Super League fans will have to wait for their first glimpse of Israel Folau after he was left out of the Catalans Dragons squad for Sunday’s game at Wakefield.
The 30-year-old dual-code Australia international, whose signing has been criticised by all sections of the sport because of his homophobic views, has been training with his new team-mates all week after arriving in the south of France last weekend.
But coach Steve McNamara has decided it is too soon for Folau to be re-introduced into rugby league and omitted him from his 21-man squad for the game at Belle Vue.
The PA news agency understands that Folau, who was sacked by Rugby Australia last May after claiming “hell awaits” gay people, will not travel with the squad to Yorkshire.
McNamara warned it will take time for the former Wallabies and Waratahs full-back or winger, who has signed a 12-month deal with the French club, to readjust to the 13-man game.
Folau’s last match for the Waratahs was last April and he has not played rugby league since switching codes 10 years ago.
He could now make his Super League debut in the Dragons’ home game against Castleford on Saturday week.
Wakefield have already made plans to celebrate inclusivity in the sport by inviting LGBT groups to Sunday’s match.
Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone this week admitted he had sleepless nights over whether to sanction the signing of Folau and conceded the game “came to the wrong conclusion”.
The Rugby Football League said it was powerless to prevent the registration but Super League clubs voted at a meeting in Salford on Wednesday to look for ways to tighten up the rules to prevent such a signing in future.