Rugby League: Australian Christian Lobby launches campaign to bring Israel Folau back to NRL

The Australian Christian Lobby has launched a media campaign, calling for international rugby player Israel Folau to be allowed back to the National Rugby League.

Folau, who has played all three of Australia's major oval ball codes professionally, was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 over social media posts deemed homophobic.

An NRL return with St George Illawarra Dragons was scuppered in February, after 

news of negotiations sparked a backlash from LGBT rights groups, fans and sponsors.

The Australian Christian Lobby has placed a full-page advertisement in Sydney's mass circulation Daily Telegraph, calling for the 32-year-old to be allowed back to the code, where he started his career.

"Those at the top want to punish him forever, even though they allow others to play who have criminal charges and atrocious personal conduct," reads the advert, which urges fans to contact the NRL. "This double standard is wrong!"

NRL chief executive Peter V'Landys says Folau will be treated like any other player and the issue of him returning to the NRL is academic, until a club applies to sign him.

"This Christian Lobby, with their full-page ads, basically are wasting their resources and money, because there is no application," he says. "Any player has to have a contract with a club and the necessary registration application to go with it.

"We have neither of those."

Folau, a fundamentalist Christian, had his Wallabies and Super Rugby deals terminated, after he posted a meme that said hell awaited "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers" and others.

He took legal action against Rugby Australia, demanding A$14 million (NZ$15.2 million) in compensation, but the case was settled out of court, with Folau receiving an undisclosed sum.

He played for one season in France with Catalan Dragons, but before quitting the Super League club and returning to Australia with his family at the end of last year.