Wakefield to celebrate 'inclusivity' when Folau's Catalans visit

2 min

London (AFP)

Rugby league club Wakefield are to hold a celebration of "inclusivity" when Catalans Dragons visit for Sunday's Super League match, with or without controversial new signing Israel Folau.

The French club caused a furore when they handed a 12-month contract to the dual-code international, who was sacked by Australia rugby union bosses for posting homophobic comments on social media.

Wigan responded by declaring the visit of the Catalans to the DW Stadium on March 22 a Pride Day and Wakefield chief executive Michael Carter said his club were engaging with LGBT groups in the run up to the round-two Super League fixture.

"We're saying anybody who wants to come down and celebrate the inclusivity of our sport would be very, very welcome," he said.

"What I don't want to do is turn it into some kind of witch-hunt against an individual because then you will always get somebody who takes it too far."

Super League chiefs voted unanimously on Wednesday for more powers to stop future controversial signings and instructed Wakefield to ban any questions about Folau at Thursday's weekly pre-match press conference.

But the saga is set to drag on, at least until Folau makes his first appearance in Super League.

The former Wallabies and Waratahs full-back has been training with his new team-mates after flying in from Australia at the weekend but has not played any kind of rugby for 10 months.

Carter said Wakefield intended to employ more stewards than usual as a precaution at Sunday's game and admitted it would be useful to know if Folau would be there.

"I will try and find out so we can make plans accordingly," he said.

"If I was in Catalans' shoes, I would have thought a home game would be the best way to introduce him to Super League rather than an away game in the cold, wet and windy climes of Wakefield."

Although the Dragons are short of players in the outside backs, coach Steve McNamara says he will not rush his new signing into action.