Dragons quickly abandon Folau hunt
The St George Illawarra Dragons have withdrawn their interest in signing controversial cross-code footballer Israel Folau following heavy backlash.
In a bombshell report, it was revealed on Tuesday morning that the Dragons had made a major move to recruit Folau back into the NRL.
The Dragons board had reportedly given the green light to go ahead with plans to recruit Folau, who would likely play in the centres if a contract was ratified.
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The club inevitably faced a tsunami of criticism, and the Dragons have quickly backflipped on the decision following their extraordinary general meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
"While the Dragons did enquire about signing Folau, the club can confirm that such discussions have now ceased," the club confirmed in a statement.
St George Illawarra have provided the following update in relation to Israel Folau #redv— St George Illawarra Dragons (@NRL_Dragons) February 3, 2021
According to NewsCorp, there was some sponsor and fan backlash after the club made it known they wanted to sign the former Wallaby.
The 31-year-old's return to the NRL now appears to be dead in the water, but he is reportedly eager to explore other opportunities in the league, according to NewsCorp.
Folau signed a contract extension with the Catalans Dragons last year, and is expected to represent the Super League club in 2021.
He hasn't played in the NRL since leaving the Broncos in 2010 and in 2019 had his contract with Rugby Australia torn up for making homophobic comments on social media, bringing an end to his illustrious Wallabies career.
READ MORE: 'Deadly' consequence of Dragons move
Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys has previously said Folau's views on homosexuality were not welcome in the NRL.
"The game is inclusive. Israel's comments are not inclusive," V'landys said in October 2019.
"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 (who commit) violence. It's a big statement to make. With due respect to Israel, what he says, young kids listen to. 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."
@NRL_Dragons hopeless club. Reeling from skipper Cameron McInnes walking out, they leak Folau story to take outrage away from losing inspirational leader. Cave in 24 hours later on Folau. Winning comps start in the front office. Guarantee Saints won’t be winning any time soon.— BUZZ ROTHFIELD (@BuzzRothfield) February 3, 2021
Originally published as Dragons quickly abandon Folau hunt