While the Dragons withdrew a bid to sign Israel Folau, two heavyweight Queenslanders want to see the controversial code-hopper back in the NRL.
While the Dragons withdrew a bid to sign Israel Folau, two heavyweight Queenslanders want to see the controversial code-hopper back in the NRL.

Top Bronco wants Folau to return to NRL

Queensland Origin skipper Daly Cherry-Evans and Brisbane's Alex Glenn have led a chorus of NRL captains calling for the ARL Commission to let Israel Folau back into rugby league.

Folau's future has taken an intriguing twist with the dual international having been left out of Catalans Dragons' squad for the upcoming Super League season - potentially opening the door for an NRL comeback.

News Corp can reveal Brisbane figureheads have been offered the services of controversial code-hopper Folau to help spark a Broncos revival after the glamour club's wooden-spoon finish last season.

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The Dragons last month held high-level discussions in relation to signing Folau, only to withdraw interest following a fierce backlash when news of their pursuit became public.

Folau is currently living in Brisbane and his management have shopped the 31-year-old to a number of clubs, including the Broncos, in a last-ditch bid to resurrect his NRL career.

While Broncos coach Kevin Walters is a huge fan of Folau's talent, Brisbane have not approached him at this stage, nor tabled a formal offer given the political complexities around his potential registration by the NRL.

 

Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 for his homophobic comments but speaking at the NRL's season launch on Thursday, some of the code's most respected stars urged ARL Commission boss Peter V'landys to put out the welcome mat.

"From what I have been told, Israel played great footy (for Catalans) so if he's available for Queensland, why not bring him back to rugby league," Manly and Maroons skipper Cherry-Evans said.

"I wouldn't say no to Israel Folau lining up for Queensland again.

"Our game is a funny game, we've had some people do some pretty crazy things after the years and they have had some flexible second chances.

"I guess it's how you compare what Israel has done compared to other cases in the NRL on what you think is bad and good (behaviour).

"Israel said what he said. I wouldn't object to him coming back.

 

"I don't condone what he has said, but if he wants to come back into the game as a player, I don't have a problem with it."

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo has said the governing body will assess any formal application for Folau, who played 91 first-grade games before quitting rugby league a decade ago to chase a career in the AFL and rugby union.

Folau has a history with the Broncos.

He played two seasons with the club in 2009-10, scoring 37 tries from 39 games and it is that type of strike-rate that could help Walters bring the glory days back to the Broncos as he looks to snap a 15-year premiership drought.

Glenn said he would relish the prospect of seeing Folau back in Broncos colours, although that appears remote with Brisbane bosses mindful of the club's multimillion-dollar sponsorship deals.

 

Brisbane skipper Alex Glenn would love to have Israel Folau back at Red Hill. Picture: Liam Kidston.
Brisbane skipper Alex Glenn would love to have Israel Folau back at Red Hill. Picture: Liam Kidston.

 

"I would love to see him back," Glenn said.

"Everyone makes mistakes and everyone is judging him about his opinions, but if you go back to his days playing rugby league he was unbelievable.

"If he was to come to the Broncos it would be unbelievable.

"He is still a striking force in my eyes.

"I know as soon as he laces up those boots it is natural habitat for him to go out there and rip up opposition.

"It would be unreal to get him back in the game. I don't condone what he says but everyone has their right to voice their opinion. I don't stand for what he says but I believe he shouldn't be judged for the rest of his life by what he says.

"He was one of the best in the game before he went to AFL and when he went to rugby he was ripping it up. His talents are there. I would love to see him back in a rugby league jersey at the Broncos."

 

 

Newly-crowned Dragons skipper Ben Hunt said he was disappointed Folau didn't arrive at the Red V this season.

"It's a touchy subject but just looking at him as a footy player I was disappointed in that sense (that he didn't sign with the Dragons)," Hunt said.

"I had two years with him at the Broncos and just to see the athlete he was and what he can bring to a team, you have to get excited about that.

"I think Izzy would be great (back in rugby league).

"Just his presence and talent on the field, if you put Izzy out there, the defence is already shaky before the ball is even kicked off. He is now a veteran and has been around the game for a long time and seen a lot of things.

"He would bring some knowledge to a dressing room."

Originally published as Top Bronco wants Folau to return to Red Hill


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