Controversial code-swapper Israel Folau is reportedly close to making a shock return to the NRL.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports the St George Illawarra Dragons have submitted a formal application to the NRL in the hope of signing Folau to a two-year deal.
It’s understood the Dragons are hoping to bring Folau back in their centres, with the proposal approved by the club’s board after major sponsors were informed.
“We are always on the lookout for great players,” Dragons CEO Ryan Webb told the newspaper.
“We have inquired with the NRL about Israel and we will work with them to hopefully see him join us in 2021.
"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."
The opinions spawn from Folau’s exit from sport in Australia after the 31-year-old saw his contract from Rugby Australia terminated in 2019 for a social media post in which he said homosexuals, among other groups, were headed to “Hell” unless they repented their sins.
At the time, ARLC chairman Peter V’Landys said the door was all but shut on Folau to return to rugby league in Australia.
"The game is inclusive. Israel's comments are not inclusive," 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 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."
Folau has been playing rugby league in the Super League with Catalans since the controversy. He has scored five tries in 15 games.
Prior to his switch to rugby union, Folau earned 91 NRL appearances with the Storm and Broncos between 2007 and 2010.