No Dragons fanfare as Folau arrives at new club in France
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Perpignan (France) (AFP)
Ex-Wallabies star Israel Folau, who was sacked by Rugby Australia for his highly publicised homophobic views, has touched down in France to join rugby league club, the Catalans Dragons of the Super League.
There was no fanfare for Folau, 30, an outspoken Christian and former poster boy of Australian rugby union who was dismissed last May after a social media post warning "hell awaits" gay people.
"He arrived Sunday, we didn't want shout it from the rooftops, so he could arrive in peace. We want him to train in complete serenity so that he can play as quickly as possible," Dragons spokesman Yannick Rey told AFP.
Folau, the Perpignan-based club said, "is fit", but lacking game time as he has not played since his suspension.
The Australian of Tongan heritage met his new teammates on Monday and was undergoing medical tests Tuesday.
"He faces a battery of medical tests which will tell us some more about the date he'll be able to play," Rey said.
"If he's passed fit to play Sunday, he'll play Sunday."
Beaten at home in their Super League season opener by Huddersfield (32-12), the Dragons play Wakefield Trinity away on Sunday before hosting Castleford on February 15.
Folau played rugby league for Melbourne and Brisbane before switching codes to rugby union, but the free-running full-back was told he would not be allowed to return to the NRL, Australia's major rugby league club competition, following his exile by the Wallabies.
However, the England-based Rugby Football League said it was powerless to prevent Folau's registration, saying the moral responsibility for deciding whether to sign a player sits with individual clubs.
Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone condemned the move and Wigan declared their home game against the Catalans in March a "Pride Day" in response.
© 2020 AFP