Super League has voted unanimously to prevent clubs from controversial signings in the future after the Catalans Dragons’ hiring of Israel Folau cast a pall over the new season.
The Catalans Dragons chairman, Bernard Guasch, was conspicuous by his absence at a meeting of Super League clubs in Salford, where the hot topic for discussion was his controversial signing of the former Wallaby.
In a statement, Super League admitted it was unable to prevent Folau from playing but wanted to “separate an off-field matter from what is happening on the field”, adding the Super League Board had put in place measures to ensure they had greater powers to prevent such signings.
The other clubs specifically requested the presence of Guasch after he ignored the will of both Super League and the Rugby Football League in signing the dual-code international, who was sacked by Rugby Australia last May for posting homophobic comments on social media.
The issue angered most of the clubs and Hull KR’s chairman, Neil Hudgell, wrote a letter to the Catalans warning them of possible legal consequences in the event of his club losing out financially due to the presence of Folau in Super League.
Guasch, who has defended his club’s decision to hand Folau a 12-month contract, was expected to attend the regular meeting at the AJ Bell Stadium but had not arrived when it started at 10am.
Folau arrived in Perpignan from Australia at the weekend to begin training with his new teammates and is in contention to be involved in Sunday’s round-two fixture at Wakefield.
The former Waratahs full-back or winger has not played any rugby since last April and it is 10 years since his last league match, but the Catalans are short of outside backs and coach Steve McNamara could be tempted to name him in his 21-man squad on Friday.
“We knew it would be controversial,” McNamara told BBC Sport. “We investigated a fair few players, Israel’s name was on that list and, having spent a lot of time speaking to him and understanding him a lot more and getting reassurances, we made a decision as a club that we would support Israel and give him another opportunity in our game.”