Israel Folau’s next big move revealed
"NEVER say never".
Those were the words spoken by Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle when asked if Israel Folau's days were finished playing for Australia.
RA and Folau announced an out-of-court settlement earlier in the week following months of fallout stemming from Folau being sacked over his controversial social media posts, which read: "Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolators: Hell Awaits You. Repent! Only Jesus Saves."
But as the fallout continues, with varying reports speculating about the amount RA paid to Folau, the conversation has turned to the former Wallabies star and his return to the field.
The sacked star is determined to remain in the professional athlete cycle and is reportedly eyeing off a return to the NRL.
The Sunday Telegraph reports the 30-year-old has been training hard to get himself fit for a preferred return to rugby league.
Any cross-code switch could meet resistance from the NRL, however, with chairman Peter V'landys having publicly insisted that devout Christian Folau's controversial stance on homosexuality is incompatible with the game's ethos.
"The game is inclusive. Israel's comments are not inclusive," V'landys said last month.
"I have no tolerance for people that put other people's lives (at risk) or (commit) violence. It's a big statement to make."
According to the Telegraph, though, Folau would even be willing to allow the NRL to vet his future social media posts if it allowed him to move back to the competition.
Several clubs are said to be monitoring the situation closely with regards to a potential Folau return, none more so than the Brisbane Broncos.
The Broncos have reportedly made an enquiry to the NRL about a Folau return, according to the Sydney Morning Herald's Danny Weidler.
Journalist Neil Breen, however, was quick to slam the Broncos for their reported interest in attempting to bring in Folau.
"What will happen will be this, rugby league clubs are desperate for success, so the NRL and Peter V'landys have basically said to the clubs, who are independent from them, 'Don't bring this guys name to us, we don't want him,'" Breen said.
"But the clubs can. If the Broncos do it, they've got rocks in their head. Don't touch him, go and sign Latrell Mitchell if you want an outside back.
"Why would you touch Israel Folau?"
Netball great Liz Ellis said: "The thing with rugby league clubs, with any sports club, you want to win, you're desperate for success.
"You can buy talent or you can actually work on your culture.
"So you look at Brisbane and they've got Matt Lodge. There's talk about him becoming captain. There's still so many question marks for fans over whether he should be playing rugby league at all.
"You bring in Israel Folau and I think you bring in a heap of other issues that your fans are going to be sitting back going, 'What sort of club are you running?'"
Folau made his NRL debut as a teenager back in 2007 with the Melbourne Storm.
He played 52 games for the Storm before switching to join the Broncos, making 39 appearances.
He then pulled the shock switch when he signed with the GWS Giants in the AFL before hanging up the AFL boots and moving to rugby union.