Rugby league: Israel Folau closer to Australian return after securing release from Super League's Catalans Dragons

Israel Folau's return to rugby league has taken its next step, with the controversial former Wallabies fullback being granted a release from his contract with French Super League club Catalans Dragons.

Folau, 32, has been attempting to return to the 13-man code in Australia, signing on with amateur side Southport Tigers. Two of Folau's younger brothers are on Southport's books.

But that attempt was thwarted when he was refused registration by Queensland Rugby League (QRL), due to his Catalans contract still having one year left to run. 

That decision has seen Folau take legal action against QRL, lodging a Supreme Court Injunction against the state's governing body.

Folau claimed that his contract with Catalans was invalidated when they refused to pay him after returning to Australia on compassionate grounds.

However, after negotiations with Catalans, Folau has been granted a release from the rest of his contract, the French club have confirmed.

"Israel has been great with us in 2020 both on and off the field and we wanted to facilitate the negotiations to reach an agreement," Catalans chairman Bernard Guasch says.

"He told us his desire to play alongside his two brothers and we didn't want to prevent him. We wish him all the best in the next chapter of his career."

Billionaire Clive Palmer, the patron of Southport Tigers, will foot the bill of Folau's stint in amateur rugby league.

Folau will command a reported $270,000 per season with Southport, and could make his debut as early as Saturday against Currumbin.