Steve McNamara ‘unsure’ if Israel Folau will make Catalans debut this weekend

Steve McNamara ‘unsure’ if Israel Folau will make Catalans debut this weekend

Israel Folau has two more training sessions with Catalans Dragons to demonstrate whether he is ready to make his Super League debut this weekend.

The 30-year-old dual-code international, whose signing by the French club caused a furore in the game, has been sidelined since being sacked by Rugby Australia last May after claiming “hell awaits” gay people.

But Folau, who switched codes a decade ago, is in his second week of training with his new team-mates and could make his comeback in the Dragons’ home game against Castleford on Saturday.

“We’re not sure,” Dragons boss Steve McNamara told the PA news agency. “We didn’t take him to Wakefield, we left him here to do some more training, which he completed.

Catalan Dragons head coach Steve McNamara has a big decision to make (Richard Sellers/PA)
Catalan Dragons head coach Steve McNamara has a big decision to make (Richard Sellers/PA)

“We’ve got two reasonable sessions, one this afternoon and one tomorrow afternoon when we’ll have a look and then we’ll decide.

“There’s no way I’m going to throw him into something that he’s not ready for. By the same token, if he is ready, then we’ll consider it. We’re really unsure at this stage.”

Catalans’ next game in Perpignan is not until March 7 but McNamara says he will not be influenced by the obvious temptation to give the club’s biggest signing his debut in front of their own fans.

“It’s not based on anything other than football, when he’s ready to contribute positively to the team on the field, as simple as that, whether that be home or away,” added the former England coach.

There's no way I'm going to throw him into something that he's not ready for. By the same token, if he is ready, then we'll consider it. We're really unsure at this stage.

“Physically he’s in good shape. He’s not played the game for 10 years and he’s not trained with a team for seven or eight months so it’s going to take him some time but, in terms of how he looks after his body, he looks in really good shape.”

Folau was signed as a direct replacement for centre Brayden Wiliame and the Dragons have been hit by early-season injuries to fellow threequarters David Mead, Lewis Tierney and Tom Davies.

“There are one or two borderline who are getting close but it’s early for us,” he said. “We didn’t get back until 6.30pm last night and we’re just assessing everything.”

The postponement of the Catalans’ round-two fixture at Wakefield on Sunday has left the club with two trips to England to rearrange, with the likelihood of midweek matches.

Israel Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia last May after claiming “hell awaits” gay people (Adam Davy/PA)
Israel Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia last May after claiming “hell awaits” gay people (Adam Davy/PA)

The scheduled game at St Helens on February 21 was an early postponement due to the champions’ involvement in the World Club Challenge that weekend, a move that has bewildered McNamara.

“Obviously the game being cancelled at the weekend is a huge one for us,” he said. “It has made it really difficult for us, particularly after they gave us St Helens in World Club Challenge weekend.

“For the life of me I can’t understand why an overseas team was given St Helens to rearrange.

“It makes the logistics far more difficult than for an English-based team with the flights and hotels, and now we’ve got two of them. It’s a costly one.”

More on this topic

More than €440,000 in funding announced for LGBTI+ youth supportsMore than €440,000 in funding announced for LGBTI+ youth supports

Fair Cop founder wins partial court victory in UK over transgender ‘hate incidents’Fair Cop founder wins partial court victory in UK over transgender ‘hate incidents’

'Lyra would have been so overjoyed' - History made as first same-sex marriage takes place in the North'Lyra would have been so overjoyed' - History made as first same-sex marriage takes place in the North

US police officer who was told to ‘tone down gayness’ agrees $10m settlementUS police officer who was told to ‘tone down gayness’ agrees $10m settlement

More in this Section

Five key storylines to follow at the National Indoor ChampionshipsFive key storylines to follow at the National Indoor Championships

Weekend previews and predictions: Old rivalries renewed as League campaigns enter crunch phaseWeekend previews and predictions: Old rivalries renewed as League campaigns enter crunch phase

Only chosen few may be allowed speak to refereesOnly chosen few may be allowed speak to referees

Harty Cup postponement may have big impact on sidelinesHarty Cup postponement may have big impact on sidelines


Lifestyle

Prepare to fall for leather, whatever the weather, says Annmarie O'Connor.Trend of the week: It's always leather weather

The starting point for Michael West’s new play, in this joint production by Corn Exchange and the Abbey, is an alternative, though highly familiar, 1970s Ireland. You know, elections every few weeks, bad suits, wide ties, and a seedy nexus of politics and property development.Theatre Review: The Fall of the Second Republic at Abbey Theatre, Dublin

The Cork-led band played a superb gig in Dublin, writes Ed Power.REVIEW: The Murder Capital, Vicar Street

Lack of physical activity also causing disturbance of children’s sleep patterns.Under-fives suffering lack of sleep from extended screen time, doctor says

More From The Irish Examiner