Rugby league: Billionaire backer Clive Palmer prepared for legal battle to ensure Israel Folau's return

Israel Folau and billionaire Clive Palmer have clashed with media, after announcing the sacked Wallabies star's signing for Gold Coast rugby league side Southport Titans.

In an exchange over his controversial beliefs, Folau asked a journalist: "Have you read the Bible?"

Folau, 32, has applied for Queensland Rugby League to finalise his registration to play in the local Gold Coast competition with two of his four brothers.

Rugby Australia sacked him in 2019, after he took aim at homosexuals in a series of social media posts.

Asked whether he still holds the same views, Folau has doubled down.

"I tell you what I do stand for," he says. "As a Christian, I stand by the Bible and what the Bible says - every written word in that book, I stand by that. 

"I believe what the Bible says. I didn't write the Bible - that is God's written word and I believe that wholeheartedly."

Palmer, whose net worth was estimated at $NZ2.5 billion by Forbes in 2019, declares Folau as "the best rugby player in the world" and has pledged his fortune to a legal battle to ensure he plays again. The 67-year-old is a patron of the club.

"We want an example where people of all faiths can play sport. Religious freedom is a fundamental right in this country.

"I've got some resources and if it got down to a legal battle, I'm sure anyone opposing somebody on the basis of religious persecution would go down very seriously and pay damages. 

"There's no legal basis to not register him, he's been cleared by the Broncos."

Fronting media alongside Palmer, Folau has answered questions about his move to play for the Tigers.

"I am excited to be here and link up with Clive," he says. "The opportunity he's given me and my family is something I'm really grateful for."

Earlier this year, Folau's hopes of returning to the NRL were quashed, when public backlash saw St George Illawarra Dragons abandon their bid to sign him. 

He most recently plied his trade with French Super League side Catalans Dragons, where he remains contracted until the end of 2021. 

Folau's first game for the Tigers could come against Burleigh Heads next week.