Sport Rugby League Israel Folau not registered by Queensland Rugby League
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Israel Folau not registered by Queensland Rugby League

Israel Folau was set to join the Tigers ahead of this weekend's match against Burleigh Bears. Photo: ABC/Michael Rennie
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Queensland Rugby League has refused to allow Israel Folau to return to play for Southport.

In a statement on Wednesday, QRL said it had received no confirmation that Folau has been released from his existing playing contract with his overseas club, the Catalan Dragons.

The French club last week issued its own legal threat against Folau if he attempted to play for another club after he returned to Australia on compassionate leave while still contracted to the club.

Folau was unveiled as the latest signing for the Southport Tigers, who play in the local Gold Coast competition, last week.

The Tigers’ main sponsor, mining magnate Clive Palmer, said he hoped Folau would be free to play against Burleigh Bears on Saturday, May 29.

On Wednesday, the QRL said it “cannot proceed with any registration approval until such time as the clearance is received”.

Queensland’s governing body said it was “astounded” by Mr Palmer’s threat to head to the Federal Court in an attempt to force it to allow Folau to return to playing in Australia.

“While the QRL acknowledges the differing views in relation to this application, the league is astounded that public commentary has included threats of protracted legal action should registration not be granted,” its statement read.

“As a not-for-profit organisation, the QRL’s objectives are to foster and develop the game in Queensland, and to generally take action that is considered to be in the best interests of rugby league in Queensland.”

Mr Palmer said there was “no legal basis” to stop Folau from playing with the Southport Tigers and that he had hoped QRL would register the former Wallaby star, “in accordance with the law”.

Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 following a series of social media posts concerning same-sex relationships.

He later received a multimillion-dollar payout from RA.

The QRL board said, on receipt of international clearance, that Folau would be “granted permission to register for the Southport Tigers at a community rugby league level and no higher”.

Another condition for registration was confirmation Folau had read and understood his obligations as a player under the QRL rules and community code of conduct.

“The QRL is an inclusive organisation with a proud diversity and inclusion framework,” its statement read.

-with agencies