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Israel Folau is one step closer to returning to Australian rugby league.
The controversial code-hopper has been given the green light to play for the Southport Tigers in the Gold Coast, but only if he receives international clearance from his parent club.
That means Super League outfit the Catalan Dragons must release Folau from his current contract if he stands any chance of the Queensland Rugby League (QRL) allowing him to compete.
But things are far from signed, sealed and delivered for Folau.
So far, the Dragons have refused to play ball and aren't releasing the ex-Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos star from his deal - a move that will undoubtedly frustrate Folau.
"The QRL have not received confirmation that Folau is released from his existing playing contract, nor has he received a clearance from his last known registered overseas club," the QRL said in a statement.
BREAKING: QRL will grant Israel Folau permission to play for Southport Tigers if/when he gets contract release from Catalans, and signs their code of conduct pic.twitter.com/8GsuQTFBbK- Jamie Pandaram (@JamiePandaram) May 26, 2021
"The QRL cannot proceed with any registration approval until such time as the clearance is received - this is in accordance with current national policy regarding international clearances playing at any level of the game.
"On receipt of international clearance, Folau will be granted permission to register for the Southport Tigers at a community rugby league level and no higher, as per the registration request that has been made.
"Any registration is subject to Folau confirming he has read and understood his obligations as a player under the QRL rules, the QRL Code of Conduct and the Community Rugby League terms and conditions NRL registration."
Those 'code of conduct rules' and 'player conditions' the QRL is referring to is a clear nod to Folau's past social media use.
The former Wallaby was infamously axed by Rugby Australia following a string of homophobic and highly-offensive posts online.
Now QRL have made an early indication that they won't stand for any bad behaviour from its players with regards to social media use - Folau included.
Bravo to the QRL for recognising the sanctity of Israel Folau's contract with Catalans. All the other issues are secondary if you haven't secured a release from the club you signed to play for. Surely that's the first thing any club would ask Folau and Palmer.- Brad Walter (@BradWalterSport) May 26, 2021
"The QRL acknowledge that previous social media comments made by Folau, whilst not a registered participant in rugby league at the time, do not align to the beliefs of the game, or the QRL," the QRL said.
"The QRL is an inclusive organisation with a proud diversity and inclusion framework."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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