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‘They are furious’: NRL outraged as Israel Folau returns to rugby league

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Israel Folau will return to rugby league for the first time in 10 years, with the NRL said to be “furious”.

The controversial rugby union star has signed a 12-month deal to play for the French-based Super League club Catalans Dragons.

The news came as a surprise to many after the 30-year-old was sacked by Rugby Australia and banned from signing with the NRL over a homophobic Instagram post.

Catalan Chairman Bernard Guasch says the club “does not support or agree with Israel’s previously expressed and controversial views” and has promised to terminate his contract immediately if he posts any similar views.

Folau has released a statement confirming the move and signalling his intention to keep his religious beliefs private.

“I’m a proud Christian, my beliefs are personal, my intention is not to hurt anyone and I will not be making further public comment about them.”

Channel Nine senior Rugby League reporter Danny Weidler has slammed the signing, revealing to Mark Levy it’s left a lot of people angry.

“I think it’s highly embarrassing for rugby league that he is now playing rugby league at a professional level again,” he told Wide World of Sports radio.

“Simple as that, he shouldn’t be playing. I think his comments are hurtful and I think they cause harm.

“I know the NRL was very strong about it and they are furious about what’s happened. And I can tell you there’s condemnation over in the Super League as well. There’s a lot of people who don’t want him playing.

“I’m sick of the bloke, I don’t want to hear about him. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to.”

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Image: Getty/Scott Barbour