There isn't a more controversial star in the world of sport than Israel Folau at the moment and he is expected to make his Super League debut this weekend. Will he change the minds of many by grabbing the first try of the game?
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Israel Folau is the name on everyone’s lips in the world of rugby league at the moment. A lot of people believe he should not be allowed to play the game, while others feel he deserves a second chance.
The 30-year-old former Australia rugby union international shocked the world in May 2019 when he tweeted a homophobic message suggesting ‘hell awaits gays’. This caused uproar and he was sacked by Rugby Australia and was informed by the National Rugby League (NRL) that he would not be welcomed back in league either.
This left Folau with not many options, the NRL didn’t want him and rugby union didn’t want him. Despite the bad publicity that followed Folau around, Super League side Catalans Dragons decided to bite the bullet and offered him a one-year contract.
Unsurprisingly, this news did not go down too well and a lot of Super League clubs voiced their disapproval. Within hours of the Dragons announcing Folau’s signing, Wigan Warriors revealed that their home game against Catalans on March 22 will be known as Pride Day in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
The Super League held an emergency meeting to discuss the signing of Folau following a lot of protests, and although this signing will be allowed to take place, they have vowed to stamp out more controversial players joing Super League in the future.
An official statement read: “Super League has clearly and consistently outlined its position on Israel Folau. With the season under way, we now feel it is important for Super League to separate what is an off-field matter from what is happening on the field.
“The Super League Board accepts the legalities around the RFL’s decision to register Israel Folau, and the Board has voted unanimously to put in place measures that ensure the Super League has greater authority to stop controversial signings such as this in the future.”
He puts his comments down to his Christian beliefs, but surely common sense should prevail. Comments like these are bound to cause offence, sometimes it’s best to keep them to yourself. Folau refuses to back down and that is evident in the fact he has not removed the post from his account.
He is bound to get some abuse when he travels to England with the Dragons, but he is expected to be handed his debut in front of his own fans against Castleford Tigers on Saturday.
We will never agree with what Folau posted, but he is one quality player and if he does start against the Tigers then he is a good bet to score the opening try of the game.
Match fitness might be a problem for him, but his quality cannot be questioned. If he manages to link up well with Sam Tomkins and James Maloney, then he could be crossing the line in a more favourable way.