Sacked Australia rugby union international Israel Folau has made a switch back to rugby league with a move to Super League club Catalans Dragons.

Folau reached a settlement with Australia Rugby in December after he was released for writing homophobic posts on social media in April.

He was sacked for saying “hell awaits” gay people, after previously being warned over his social media posts.

Folau, 30, has signed a one-year deal with the French club.

The Rugby Football League and Super League said they “deplored” Folau’s previous comments and it was “a difficult decision” to allow him into the competition.

“The player has not been charged or found guilty of any criminal offence,” an RFL statement said.

“However distasteful his previous comments, we don’t believe that, under our current regulatory framework, these can prevent his participation in the sport.

“We have sought and received reassurances from both the player and the club regarding future behaviour.”

Folau said he “acknowledged the views expressed by Super League and the Rugby Football League”.

“I’m a proud Christian, my beliefs are personal, my intention is not to hurt anyone and I will not be making further public comment about them,” he said.

“I look forward to my return to the great game of rugby league with the Catalans Dragons.”

What is a highly controversial signing comes after the National Rugby League ruled out Folau’s return to Australia’s top-flight competition.

He had a distinguished career in the NRL with the Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos and earned representative honours with as a Queensland State of Origin player and Australia international.

More to follow.

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