Disgraced Wallaby Israel Folau has attempted to secure a Super Rugby deal with the Blue Bulls according to representatives of the team.
The Blue Bulls Company’s CEO, Alfons Meyer, told Netwerk 24 that he was initially quite excited at the prospect of signing the record-breaking Tongan-Australian, but that excitement faded fast.
Folau a loose cannon
Meyer conceded that while the Bulls would love to have a player of the calibre of Folau, his recent history of controversial remarks and behaviour made signing him too great a risk.
Rugby Australia say they did not back down in Folau case
Folau has alienated himself from most of the Wallaby fraternity since being axed by the Waratahs and Australia for sharing extremist ideology on his social media.
Super Rugby’s record try-scorer settled his challenge against his sacking by Rugby Australia this week, claiming he had been ‘vindicated’ by the settlement, the terms of which were confidential but included mutual apologies. Folau stoked suggestions that he received an AUS$8-million settlement from RA to drop his pursuit of compensation to the tune of AUS$14-million.
Meyer claims the Bulls were contacted by a lawyer offering them the services of the 73-cap Wallaby who has also played professionally in Rugby League and Aussie Rules Football.
“I’m not sure if it is Folau’s lawyer, but a lawyer approached us to hear if we are interested in contracting him,” said Meyer.
“Initially, I was excited but if you look at this matter with a sober mind then it’s simply not worth the risk. He is controversial and you’ll expose yourself by contracting him.”
The Bulls boss claims that were it not for his comments then Folau would have made a great addition to the Bulls setup, although had he not landed himself in hot water he would of course still be contracted to Rugby Australia.
“It’s a pity because he (Folau) is a very special player,” added Meyer.
“He is probably amongst the top two or three players in the world. If it wasn’t for his comments, we would have given our all to have him in the group.”
The Bulls are in the market for a world-class centre, a position Folau is more than competent at filling, despite playing much of his recent rugby at fullback. The Bulls tried to lure Glasgow Warriors, Scotland centre Huw Jones to Loftus as a replacement for Jesse Kriel who has left South Africa to ply his trade in Japan.
“We are still looking for a centre, who has played at Test level and we wanted to negotiate with Huw but he would prefer to go to the Cape,” Meyer said.