Folau to stay in Australia with new four-year deal

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies star Israel Folau has committed to a new four-year deal with Rugby Australia and the Waratahs that will keep him rugby until 2022.

Despite a season of controversy and offers to go overseas, Folau is understood to have pushed for a long-term deal in Australia, and Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs agreed despite a four-year extension taking him through to 34.

The deal is yet to be publicly unveiled but it is a matter of when, not if.

Signing through to the end of 2022 still leaves Folau a year shy of the Rugby World Cup in France but it will tally up ten seasons of rugby in Australia, and almost certainly end any potential for him to resume playing rugby league.

Folau's future in rugby looked rocky at times this year after he posted a series of controversial homophobic tweets.

The 29-year-old was brought into the Rugby Australia offices in April and cautioned over his social media use by Rugby AU boss Raelene Castle and NSW Rugby CEO Andrew Hore.

Folau said at the time the storm didn't affect his views on staying in Australian rugby and ultimately it hasn't prevented him from being a wanted commodity in the sport either.

"No, absolutely not. It's nothing personal,” he said.

“At the end of the day, you're an adult, you've got to clear those things up and you've got to look at what are the main things out of it.

“You can't hold grudges, you can't take anything personally. I've been fine with how everything's rolled out the last month."

Castle also expressed support for Folau's future in the sport amid that controversy 

"We're in a negotiation with Israel to extend and we'd really like him to stay in rugby, that's hugely important to us," she said at the time.

"He's a great player, he's delivered some great outcomes for us and he's been a really strong role model in the Pasifika community and we would like to see that he stays in rugby but we also know that he's an athlete that is in demand and there's going to be other people looking to try and move him.

"So, we'll certainly be putting our best foot forward to make sure he stays in rugby."

Folau's new deal is the longest he has had in rugby and follows a string of longer-term deals being struck by Rugby AU in recent months.

Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper signed a five-year deal back in August to keep him in Australia through to 2023 and prop Allan Alaalatoa is also close to securing a four-year contract extension with one year left on his current contract.

Flyhalf Bernard Foley is the exception to that rule, having signed on for just one more year last week.

Folau is currently in Japan with the Wallabies ahead of the Bledisloe Test against the All Blacks in Yokohama.