Folau To Clash With QRL In Courtroom Showdown
Outlandish star seeks final call
Getty: Chris Hyde
Code-hopper Israel Folau's comeback bid is set to reach a decision in court, as he plans to make an Australian rugby return in Gold Coast's regional league.
The controversial legal battle will confirm Folau's eligibility, based off the status of his contract with Super League club the Catalan Dragons - who had requested a buy-out fee.
Folau departed his European club on compassionate grounds after one season, and plans to seek registration with Gold Coast-based side the Southport Tigers.
The 32 year-old's legal team argue his right to play in the division of the Queensland Rugby League (QRL) is due to the Dragons not paying him according to his contract and over-budgeting.
Claims were lodged to the Supreme Court, who will determine Folau's playing future on July 12.
Owner of the Southport side, mining magnate Clive Palmer has feverishly backed and supported Folau's return.
A legal letter lodged by Palmer's lawyer, Sam Iskander, states that the UK Super League club failed to meet contract requirements and therefore provides Folau an exemption to transfer.
"Mr Folau has received strong advice that Catalan has repudiated its contract with Mr Folau by failing to make payments to him under the contract after December 2020," the letter from Mr Iskander read.
"Mr Folau has accepted repudiation by Catalan as he's legally entitled and has terminated the contract."
Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia over social media comments made in 2019, directed at same-sex relationships and religion.
Mr Iskander wrote that the comments made based on religious beliefs were "not a basis to restrict him from his profession".
"Any discrimination on religious grounds cannot be tolerated in Australia and we are instructed to defend his rights accordingly," Iskander said.
What seemingly looked like an ugly feud between the two clubs, will soon be resolved in Folau's final attempt to join the the Gold Coast league.
On May 26, QRL returned serve in a statement that was also lodged to the court. With concerns outlining Folau's broken agreement with French club, saying Folau did not have the necessary clearance under their own bylaws.
QRL administrators and lawyers also explained that Folau's 2019 comments created a space for them to refuse registration, due to a breach in their code of conduct.
Finally, the league announced that once confirmation from the French team is released - Folau will receive a clearance to only play for Southport in 2021, mindful of his previous behaviour and outlandish comments.
"The QRL has had regard to the fact that Mr Folau only requests to be played at a local level and no higher, and that some time has passed since this statement was made in 2019,"
- a letter from league lawyers.
"Accordingly, upon receipt of formal clearance, the QRL will proceed to register Mr Folau as a player.
"Any breach by Mr Folau of these codes of conduct could lead to his suspension, or cancellation of his registration, as it would for any other player who acts in that way.
"We trust that Mr Folau's behaviour will be such that there will be no need for any disciplinary action."
The matter will be heard in Brisbane's Supreme Court on July 12, with Folau's camp arguing the QRL's refusal is due to 'discrimination grounds'.
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