The Australian Christian Lobby has renewed calls for controversial footballer Israel Folau to be handed a NRL lifeline, but it’s fallen on deaf ears at head office.
Folau’s path back to the NRL will only come if a club makes an official application for a contract, after he was denied a meeting with league bosses in February.
The 32-year-old’s camp have made several moves to get him back in the NRL, following his return to rugby league with French club Catalans Dragons last year.
The NRL has previously indicated it does not see a spot for Folau in the game after his homophobic social media posts resulted in his axing by Rugby Australia.
The ACL threw their support behind Folau on Tuesday by taking a full-page ad out in Sydney newspaper the Daily Telegraph, and launched an online petition with a campaign entitled #lethimplay.
The petition now has 12,000 signatures and ACL director Martyn Iles said the campaign was launched without asking Folau for permission.
“Israel Folau is a man that has broken no law, a man who has broken no rule of the game,” Iles told 7NEWS.
Nationals Senator Matt Canavan added: “Blokes who have been caught drink driving or committed domestic violence can play footy, why can’t a guy who’s just quoting the bible play too?”
However, Pride in Sport spokesperson Andrew Purchas said Folau had to acknowledge his wrongdoing before any return can be considered.
“He has repeatedly refused to acknowledge the harm that his comments make,” Purchas said.
The NRL has told the dual-code star there is no point in any discussions with the governing body, given it will only consider player registrations when a club puts forward an application.
“This Christian Lobby with their full-page ads basically are wasting their resources and money because there is no application,” rugby league boss Peter V’landys told the SMH.
“There are a lot more things in life that they could be lobbying for, like [an end to] poverty and inequality and all those sort of things, rather than this.”
V’Landys did, however, inform Folau’s camp they were open to a meeting with the outside back should a club support his move.
It is unlikely any club will take the risk after the negative attention St George Illawarra in February when they began the process to sign Folau, before pulling the pin.
Yet the NRL is open to considering any new application and weighing up if any requirements could be met for Folau to play in the competition for the first time since 2010.
Folau remains contracted to Catalans for another season in the UK Super League, but is in Australia over a family matter.
– with AAP