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Environment Israel Folau: Ex-Australia rugby union star considered retirement before Catalans Dragons move
Israel Folau says he considered retirement before rugby league side Catalans handed him a career lifeline.
The 30-year-old former rugby union international was sacked by Rugby Australia 10 months ago for posting homophobic comments on social media.
He is now set to make his first rugby league appearance in a decade, having switched codes to revive his career.
“Yes, of course I thought about ending my career and to do other things,” Folau told newspaper L’Independant.
“I haven’t played 13-a-side for 10 years, so I am also pretty nervous. But the environment is favourable, between the staff and the players, so that I can give my best.”
Folau could make his Super League debut on Saturday after being named in Catalans Dragons’ 21-man squad to face Castleford Tigers in Perpignan.
It would be his first run-out in the 13-man game since the former Queensland State of Origin and Australia rugby league international left NRL side Brisbane Broncos for a stint playing Australian rules football in 2010.
“It’s like a new start for me and I am very excited to return to the sport in which I became known,” said Folau.
Folau moves to Catalans as a versatile player, who will be capable of playing anywhere from full-back to centre.
He thanked the French club’s owner and chairman Bernard Guasch, as well as head coach Steve McNamara, for the opportunity.
Both have defended the club’s move for the player, with Guasch facing angry rival club bosses over the controversial move while former England boss McNamara told BBC Sport that Folau should not face the “life sentence” of being banished from sport despite his homophobic comments.
Folau’s move to Perpignan has prompted a change in how players are signed by British top-flight clubs, with Super League sides voting unanimously to have “greater authority” to stop future “controversial signings”.