Israel Folau: Former Australia international's Catalans debut 'will be on merit'

Israel Folau
Israel Folau has not played a competitive match in any code of rugby for 10 months

Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara has said that Israel Folau will only be selected "when he is ready to contribute positively to the team".

The 30-year-old's signing by the Perpignan-based side attracted widespread criticism after he was sacked by Rugby Australia for a homophobic post on social media.

He was not included in the squad for Sunday's postponed game at Wakefield.

Les Dracs host Castleford in the Super League on Saturday.

"It's not based on anything other than football. [He'll play] when he's ready to contribute positively to the team on the field, as simple as that, whether that be home or away," McNamara said.

"Physically he's in good shape. He's not played the game for 10 years and he's not trained with a team for seven or eight months so it's going to take him some time but, in terms of how he looks after his body, he looks in really good shape.

"We've got two reasonable sessions, one this afternoon [Tuesday] and one tomorrow afternoon when we'll have a look and then we'll decide.

"There's no way I'm going to throw him into something that he's not ready for. By the same token, if he is ready, then we'll consider it. We're really unsure at this stage."

Folau was sacked by Australia Rugby for saying "hell awaits" gay people in a social media post in April 2019.

At a board meeting last week, Super League voted unanimously to have "greater authority" to stop future "controversial signings" such as Folau.

Chief executive Robert Elstone said the Rugby Football League had "come to the wrong conclusion" in sanctioning the signing.

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