Disgraced athlete Israel Folau said he has “no regrets” as he announced his comeback to Australian rugby, two years after he was sacked for homophobia.
Folau announced he hopes to join an amateur rugby league club in Queensland, Australia at a press conference on Friday (21 May).
Subject to approval by the Queensland Rugby League, he will play for the Southport Tigers, a team sponsored by mining billionaire Clive Palmer.
Folau has not played for an Australian team since 2019, when he was sacked from the New South Wales Waratahs rugby union team and the Australian national squad for making homophobic comments. He claimed “hell awaits” gay people on social media, and it was later revealed that he had been previously warned over his social media posts.
At Friday’s press conference, Israel Folau said he regretted nothing.
“No regrets at all in life… from, you know, my faith in God everything happens for a reason,” he said, according to AFP.
“I’m just grateful for that opportunity to get back on the field.”
When Israel Folau was grilled on his social media posts, he said that he stood by the Bible.
“Every written word that’s written in that book, I stand by that.”
Clive Palmer was also present at the press conference and declared that he would do everything in his power to make sure that Folau could return to Australian sport.
Reuters reported Palmer vowed his “commitment to Israel Folau” is “rock solid”.
“I would pledge every cent, every dollar and every waking moment of my time to ensure that he takes the field again,” Palmer said.
He added he would be “very surprised” if the league rejects Folau.
His brothers, John and Eni Folau,, play for the Southport Tigers, and Palmer said he hoped Israel Folau would be able to play with them in the upcoming match against the Burleigh Bears.
Folau attempted to sign with George Illawarra Dragons earlier this year, however talks fell though following backlash from fans and sponsors.
After he was sacked for his homophobic comments, Folau spent 2020 playing rugby league for the French Catalans Dragons.