The NRL was unable to consider an approach from Israel Folau to have a contract registered as he continues with plans to return to a club.

Folau reached out to the NRL in the hope the governing body would consider granting him registration.

However, the NRL is prohibited from considering an application unless the individual is registered by a club.

The NRL has made it clear it would only consider Folau's application if a club submitted a contract.

The push from Folau's camp indicates he wants clearance from the NRL before seeking a lifeline with a club.

Another sticking point for Folau is his deal with Catalans Dragons.

Folau would need to be released from the final season of his deal with the Super League club before he would be free to play in Australia.

Catalans has indicated it would not stand in Folau's way given his need to remain in Australia for compassionate reasons.

However, Catalans would want compensation - through a transfer fee or player swap - for the deal to go through.

There is understood to have been a lukewarm reception from clubs for Folau to join them given the fallout from St George Illawarra's short-lived approach this month.

ARLC chairman Peter V'landys has previously said Folau would be given "due process and natural justice" when a club lodged a contract and player registration.

The Dragons never got to the point of attempting to register a contract.

Earlier it was revealed Folau has formally requested a meeting with V'landys as he pushes ahead with plans to return to the NRL.

Folau's legal team reached out to V'landys on behalf of the dual international, seemingly in the hope that they could sit down with the chair and receive some clarity around whether he would be allowed to make an NRL comeback.

Peter V’landys says the NRL won’t consider Folau’s application unless he is already committed to a club. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Peter V’landys says the NRL won’t consider Folau’s application unless he is already committed to a club. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Folau's future has been in the spotlight since it emerged that St George Illawarra and their coach Anthony Griffin were pushing for his return. The Dragons were in negotiations with Folau and the NRL for weeks, only to end the process when the backlash threatened sponsorship.

They also got the sense that they were being stonewalled by the NRL, although V'landys has been at pains to point out that Folau will be afforded due process and natural justice.

He repeated those comments when he appeared on SEN Radio on Monday, telling Andrew Voss that an application for Folau would be considered on its merits once a club came forward.

Therein lies the problem for Folau as he finds himself in a chicken-and-egg scenario.

The NRL won't consider an application for registration until a club comes forward with a contract. At the same time, Folau will struggle to attract concrete interest until the NRL indicates it would be willing to provide him with registration.

Hence his legal team's desire to receive some clarity from V'landys and the commission. Folau has clearly decided to take matters into his own hands, an indication that he can see a path back into the NRL should he receive a green light from head office.

Aside from the outcry from sections of their supporter group, the Dragons were also dissuaded from pushing ahead by demands from Super League side Catalans for a transfer fee.

Folau has another year remaining on his deal with the French club, but has returned to Australia for personal reasons. Only a handful of clubs would have the salary cap room to pursue Folau, who was expected to receive upwards of $400,000 a season under the terms of the deal he negotiated with the Dragons.

He may be left with little choice but to return overseas, although it has become clear he is intent on exhausting all avenues with the NRL before quitting on rugby league in this country.

Originally published as Why the NRL had to deny Folau approach


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