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His career in Australian rugby union may be done and dusted, but that doesn't mean an Aussie rugby league team can't snap Israel Folau up.
And that's exactly what's about to happen.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the former Wallabies fullback is on the brink of an NRL return after the St George Illawarra Dragons lodged an appeal with the sport's governing body in a bid to sign him on a two-year deal.
31-year-old Folau has been plying his trade in the Super League with the Catalans Dragons after he was infamously sacked by Rugby Australia back in 2019 for a series of homophobic posts on social media.
And despite recently being linked with a move to either Toulon and Montpellier in France, it seems there's a sporting team a lot closer to home that also has their eye on the cross-code star.
"We are always on the lookout for great players. We have enquired with the NRL about Israel and we will work with them to hopefully see him join us in 2021," Dragons CEO Ryan Webb told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"We understand there will be a range of opinions in regards to this decision, but we believe he would be a good addition to our club."
When Folau was first dumped by Rugby Australia, the idea of an NRL second-coming was initially floated about by the media.
But it didn't take long for the chairman of the Australia Rugby League Commission to put those rumours to bed.
"The game is inclusive. Israel's comments are not inclusive," Peter V'landys said at the time.
"When I was a kid and kids used to get bashed up because they were different, I used to go and defend them. And a lot of them, it's because their role models or their peers made them that way.
"I have no tolerance for people that put other people's lives (at risk) or (commit) violence. It's a big statement to make. With due respect to Israel, what he says, young kids listen too. He is a role model. They act on it. And when you're a kid at school and you get bashed up because you're different, I don't think that's a good thing."
After news of the Dragons' interest broke, fans immediately took to social media to share their displeasure with the move.
Rugby league reporter Pam Whaley perfectly captured the overall feeling, tweeting: "If I were the Dragons I would simply re-sign my very best player and not let him leave to my NRL rivals. If I were the Dragons I would simply not sign Israel Folau."
And while upsetting the loyal Dragons supporters is bad enough, the club must also weigh up the risk of sponsors and shareholders cutting ties due to opposition with Folau's beliefs.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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