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The Dragons have sought NRL approval to sign cross-code star Israel Folau on a two-year deal for the 2021 season.

As first reported by the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday, the club has confirmed it is pursuing Folau to play centre.

St George Illawarra CEO Ryan Webb told NRL.com the club had recently submitted a written request to explore Folau's return to the Telstra Premiership with the NRL.

NRL.com understands no formal contract offer has been tabled by the Dragons to Folau.

However their proposal to the NRL contains strict stipulations around Folau's public and social media comments, with immediate termination proposed if the former Queensland Origin and Australian Test star breaches the suggested contract conditions.

"We're definitely interested and we're talking to Israel," Webb told NRL.com.

Abdo addresses speculation around Folau

"Now we're working with the NRL to allay any concerns on registering a contract for him.

"We understand there will be a range of opinions in regards to this decision, but we believe he would be a good addition to our club."

The joint-venture has been engaged in talks with the former Wallaby since before Christmas, with an eye to bringing him back to Australia to play centre under new coach Anthony Griffin.

Folau scores try on debut

The Dragons proposal has been discussed between the club and NRL, however ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys has previously indicated Folau's controversial views would prevent a contract from being registered.

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said on Tuesday that fan and sponsor views would be taken into account when the governing body undertakes "due diligence" around Folau's potential return.

"Any player or official needs to be registered with the NRL. That registration process involves a number of due diligence matters," Abdo said.

"Of course, you always have to have an open mind and you have to follow due process and you have to be fair and we'll follow that process.

"Any decision that you make, you need to think about the fans, you need to think about your investors and sponsors and all of that will be taken into account. But ultimately it's the NRL's decision.

What we intend to do is follow the process that is outlined in our rules and regulations and be very fair."

Folau reached a confidential settlement with Rugby Australia in 2019 after suing the governing body for religious discrimination.

His multimillion-dollar rugby deal was terminated earlier that year over homophobic slurs on social media.

Former league star Israel Folau in 2010 during his stint with the Broncos.
Former league star Israel Folau in 2010 during his stint with the Broncos. ©NRL Photos

The 31-year-old former Storm, Broncos, Maroons and Kangaroos star subsequently signed with Super League club Catalans, but has returned home recently after his wife gave birth to their first child.

He remains contracted to the French outfit for 2021 after inking a new one-year deal last July.

Folau's initial Catalans deal was reluctantly approved by the Super League as the English governing body had no legal grounds on which to deny the contract this time last year.

Graham makes Super League return but Folau refuses to kneel

V'landys has previously echoed the firm sentiment of ARLC chair predecessor Peter Beattie when questioned on Folau being allowed back.

"The game is inclusive. Israel's comments are not inclusive," V'landys said when he first took on the role in late 2019.

"When I was a kid and kids used to get bashed up because they were different, I used to go and defend them. And a lot of them, it's because their role models or their peers made them that way.

"I have no tolerance for people that put other people's lives [at risk] or [commit] violence. It's a big statement to make. With due respect to Israel, what he says, young kids listen to.

"He is a role model. They act on it. And when you're a kid at school and you get bashed up because you're different, I don't think that's a good thing."

Dragons in 2021

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