More Folau legal stoushes may loom: expert

Super League sides may have grounds to take Israel Folau's Catalans Dragons to court if his recruitment prompts financial repercussions, a law expert says.

ISRAEL FOLAU of the Wallabies runs with the ball during the Bledisloe Cup match at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia.
ISRAEL FOLAU of the Wallabies runs with the ball during the Bledisloe Cup match at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

Israel Folau is grateful to be back in the big time but an expert warns more legal battles may loom over his controversial Super League signing.

Folau's arrival at Catalans Dragons hasn't gone down well, with rival clubs Hull Kingston Rovers and Wakefield Trinity putting the French side on notice.

Rovers owner and chairman Neil Hudgell has threatened potential legal action against the Dragons over Folau's recruitment.

And a sport and employment law expert suggests they might have a leg to stand on if the former Wallaby impacts external revenue streams or causes league-wide reputational damage.

"There may be further legal stoushes although that would also depend on the rules that govern the clubs," Giuseppe Carabetta from the University of Sydney Business School told AAP.

But Carabetta, who has previously facilitated workshops for the Rugby Union Players Association, indicated Folau's camp could start proceedings of their own if the Dragons pre-emptively sacked him without cause.

"In terms of his (Folau's) own contract, provided it was properly formed, he may have some avenue if it ends up being terminated on invalid grounds," he said.

"But I think the real issue for the sporting codes is getting a clearer balance between respecting the clear rights of LGBT persons, and individuals such as Folau's right to continue to play and their religious beliefs."

Folau was dumped by Rugby Australia last year for expressing homophobic views on social media, with the saga dragged through the courts before being settled.

Wakefield chief executive Michael Carter has publicly backed Hudgell, also reserving the right to call in the lawyers should Folau affect their bottom line.

Folau could make his debut away to Trinity on Sunday, with Carter saying they are dipping into their own coffers to pay for extra security in preparation.

The opposition fury came as the 73-Test star spoke out for the first time since signing with the Dragons.

Folau has found a new lease on life in the south of France, revelling in the team environment after a lengthy stint on the sideline.

"I missed that team camaraderie," Folau said in an interview behind closed doors as the Dragons scrapped plans for an open press conference.

"It's fantastic to be back in that team environment again, and getting back in that routine of training with the boys."

Along with his wife, former New Zealand netballer Maria Folau, the 30-year-old insists he's committed to embedding himself in the local community and even plans to learn the language.

"It's something totally different to what I'm used to ... but myself and my wife have been very excited from the day we landed here," Folau said.

"The culture's amazing and we're looking forward to, as the year goes on, getting to learn to speak the language and also embrace the people here."


AAP