MEASURES to prevent controversial signings such as Israel Folau arriving in Super League in future will essentially amount to a gentleman’s agreement between the dozen clubs.
Catalans Dragons’ recruitment of the dual-code international, which has angered many given he was sacked by Rugby Australia for posting homophobic comments on social media, was under discussion at today’s Super League meeting in Salford.
Hull KR chairman Neil Hudgell wrote a letter to Catalans warning them of possible legal consequences in the event of his club losing out financially due to the presence in Super League of Folau.
His stance was supported by other clubs and they hoped to quiz Dragons chairman Bernard Guasch - who had gone against the will of the RFL and Super League in hiring the former Wallabies star on a one-year deal - but he did not attend.
Still, in his absence, Catalans - represented by general manager Alex Chan and long-term consultant Niel Wood - agreed with the rest to make changes to protocol to try and avoid such negativity being heaped on the competition in the future.
A statement read: “Super League has clearly and consistently outlined its position on Israel Folau.
“With the season underway, we now feel it is important for Super League to separate what is and off-field matter from what is happening on the field.
“The Super League Board accepts the legalities around the RFL’s decision to register Israel Folau, and the Board has voted unanimously to put in place measures that ensure the Super League has greater authority to stop controversial signings such as this in the future.
“As a sport we have an impressive and enviable track record when it comes to equality, diversity and inclusion and we will continue our great work in those areas.”
The Yorkshire Post understands the ‘measures’ will consist of clubs coming together to discuss any such potentially controversial signings in future before a decision is made.
Clearly, that will rely heavily on clubs self-policing so it will be interesting to see if self-interest comes into play the next time such a situation arises.
Folau, 30, arrived in Perpignan from Australia at the weekend to begin training with his new team-mates ahead of Sunday's round-two fixture at Wakefield.
The former Waratahs full-back or winger has not played any rugby since last April and it is 10 years since his last league match, but the Catalans are short of outside backs and coach Steve McNamara could be tempted to name him in his 21-man squad on Friday.