Queensland Rugby League has responded to the deadline issued by Australian MP and mining magnate Clive Palmer to approve the signing of controversial athlete Israel Folau, saying they can’t let him play on several grounds.
Palmer said earlier this week Folau would take QRL to the Federal Court if they didn’t approve the code-hopper’s registration by today as the 32-year-old attempts to make his way back to the NRL after a well-publicised exit from Australian sport in 2019 due to controversial social media posts.
QRL released a statement this afternoon addressing Folau’s registration, saying while they acknowledge 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.
“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,” QRL said in the statement.
“With this in mind, the QRL Board has carefully considered all aspects of the registration request, in line with its current rules and processes.”
Those laws mean Folau cannot be cleared, the QRL said, as they have not received confirmation that Folau has been released from his existing playing contract, nor has he received a clearance from his last known registered overseas club.
Folau last played professional rugby league for Catalans Dragons in the UK Super League who said last week they “still hold his contract” and were “shocked” by his attempt at a shift back to Australian rugby league.
"It does not matter whether it is for a professional or amateur club, the license of Folau belongs to us," Catalans president Bernard Guasch told L'Independant.
"Nobody came in contact with us to start discussions."
As a result, The QRL said this afternoon it cannot proceed with any registration approval until such time as the clearance is received – a notion in accordance with current national policy regarding international clearances playing at any level of the game.
“On receipt of international clearance, Folau will be granted permission to register for the Southport Tigers at a community rugby league level and no higher, as per the registration request that has been made,” QRL said.
“Any registration is subject to Folau confirming he has read and understood his obligations as a player under the QRL Rules, the QRL Code of Conduct and the Community Rugby League Terms and Conditions NRL Registration.
“Should the registration proceed in compliance with these conditions, any breach of the code of conduct could lead to suspension, or the cancellation of the player’s registration, as it would for any other player.
“The QRL acknowledge that previous social media comments made by Folau, whilst not a registered participant in rugby league at the time, do not align to the beliefs of the game, or the QRL.”