Another potential team has closed the door on Folau

Rugby Australia (RA) CEO Raelene Castle didn’t slam the door shut on Israel Folau, diplomatically responding “never say never” when asked if she could see a way back for him in rugby, but at least one potential lifeline for the 30-year-old has been cut of

CEO of South African Super Rugby franchise the Bulls, Alfonso Meyer, revealed he was contacted to gauge his interest in recruiting the former Wallaby but said Folau is simply too controversial a figure to take a risk on.

Folau and RA reached a confidential out-of-court settlement this week after he chased $14 million in compensation for what he claimed was wrongful termination when the governing body sacked him for saying on Instagram “hell awaits” gay people.

And while the fullback would still be a valuable asset to any team on the field, off it, he’s too much of a liability.

Meyer said exactly that when discussing why the Bulls weren’t interested in pursuing Folau after being contacted by a lawyer. It’s unclear whether the lawyer was from the footy player’s camp or not, but regardless, Meyer’s view remained firm.

“I’m not sure if it is Folau’s lawyer, but a lawyer approached us to hear if we are interested in contracting him,” Meyer said in an interview with Netwerk24.

“Initially I was excited but if you look at this matter with a sober mind then it’s simply not worth the risk. He is controversial and you’ll expose yourself by contracting him.

“It’s a pity because he is a very special player.

“He is probably amongst the top two or three players in the world. If it wasn’t for his comments, we would have given our all to have him in the group.”

It’s impossible to imagine Folau ever playing rugby in Australia again and the NRL has said it won’t register a contract with him because of his stance on homosexuality, so if he wants to continue his career, then looking overseas is his best option.

Varying reports of how much RA paid Folau to end their legal standoff have emerged, but Castle said rumours of an $8 million settlement were “wildly inaccurate”. Suggestions of a pay-off between $2 million and $5 million have also been raised, but RA is determined to keep the final figure under wraps.

While there was concern the money used to pay Folau would take cash away from grassroots rugby, RA chairman Cameron Clyne assured fans that isn’t the case.

“This (settlement) will not have one impact on community rugby — we’re emphatic about that,” Clyne said on Ben Fordham’s 2GB radio show on Friday.

“We did not want to have a situation where by prolonging this case and paying legal fees we were going to damage community rugby.

“We got to a number with Israel Folau’s side where it was cheaper for us to settle than to continue to run the case. It is not our job to take money away from community rugby to run the case.”