Israel Folau claims he is being discriminated against and launches legal action in comeback bid

Israel Folau has begun legal action in an attempt to make a playing comeback in Australia this weekend.

Israel Folau in action for Australia against Scotland at Murrayfield in 2013. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Solicitor Sam Iskander, from Brisbane law firm Alexander Law, says he has received instructions from the former dual-code international to act for him against the Queensland Rugby League (QRL) on the basis of discrimination and denying the opportunity to practise his profession.

Folau found himself in limbo after the QRL blocked his attempt to sign for Southport Tigers because his registration is still held by Catalans Dragons, who say the door remains open for him to return to Super League.

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He joined the French-based Super League club after receiving a settlement from Rugby Australia who tore up his contract in 2019 after Folau posted a series of homophobic social media posts.

Israel Folau has begun legal action in an attempt to make a playing comeback in Australia. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

The 31-year-old dual-code international was given permission by the Dragons to remain in Australia at the start of the 2021 season in order to deal with pressing family matters and were shocked to discover his attempt to sign for his local club.

Iskander claims Folau’s contract is no longer valid and believes the QRL has no right to impose restrictions in the event of the player eventually being cleared to play locally.

“All Israel Folau wants to do is play football and be treated like any other person,” Mr Iskander said in a statement released to the PA news agency.

“His application for registration with the QRL is being dealt with differently to anyone else who has ever sought registration for the Southport Tigers.

“Mr Folau’s now repudiated contract agreement with Catalans has nothing to do with the QRL.

“The QRL is not a party to it and has no rights under it. Likewise, the QRL has no right to discriminate against a player or seek to disadvantage such a player.

“Never before have we seen a QRL condition put on a player where the player has to give up representative honours and selection. They are also seeking a condition that my client can only play for the Southport Tigers.

“The QRL is effectively seeking to destroy Israel’s professional aspirations. Why is this being done to Israel Folau?” he said.

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Iskander said the action against the QRL would also include individuals of the QRL board who cause his client losses, who would be pursued separately through the courts.

He added: “Israel Folau loves his wife and son, he doesn’t do drugs, drink or smoke. He hasn’t been subject to any criminal offences; he hasn’t assaulted any women. He doesn’t have a bad word to say about anyone.

“Why then is Israel being discriminated against when has never transgressed?

“He has a release from his former club the Brisbane Broncos and needs to be on the field this weekend.

“My client’s instructions are clear. No matter how long or whatever the cost, he will receive justice and freedom to practice his religious beliefs.

“He simply is the best rugby player in the world. The QRL must be brought to account for their jealousy and misguided understanding of their obligations.”

Folau signed for the Dragons on a short-term deal ahead of the 2020 season, extending it to the end of 2021 later that year.

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