The Sydney Roosters have defended their decision to hold a training session against Israel Folau and his new club the Catalans Dragons as they prepare for their World club Challenge clash against St Helens.
The Roosters will be setting up shop in Barcelona in a little over a week in preparation for the international encounter on February 22.
As part of the camp, the back-to-back NRL Premiers intend to take part in a two-hour opposed session with Catalans Dragons.
But the decision has been met with much scrutiny in the wake of Israel Folau’s recent move to the French Super League outfit after he was sacked by Rugby Australia for expressing homophobic views on social media.
Despite conjecture around Folau’s move, Roosters coach Trent Robinson defended the upcoming hit-out and reiterated that club’s decision in no way condoned the 30-year-old’s views.
“An opposed session for two hours does not mean we are validating his views,” Robinson said.
“It was organised last December, before we knew that Izzy had signed with Catalans. In the end, let’s train.”
The NRL had previously barred Folau from making a return to rugby league in Australia after starting his professional career with the Melbourne Storm.
Folau arrived in Perpignan from Australia last weekend to begin training with his new teammates ahead of Sunday’s round-two fixture at Wakefield.
The former NSW Waratahs fullback has not played any rugby since last April and it is 10 years since his last league match for Brisbane.
On Thursday, Super League club officials unanimously voted to prevent teams from making controversial signings following the furore over Folau’s move.
Representatives of 11 of the 12 clubs were present for the monthly meeting in Salford, with only Bernard Guasch, chairman of the French side, absent.
Israel Folau switches codes
Other clubs specifically requested the presence of Guasch, who has come under fire following the recruitment of former Wallabies star Folau, which went against the wishes of Super League and the Rugby Football League.
The issue also angered most of the clubs and Hull KR chairman Neil Hudgell went as far to write a letter to the Catalans warning them of possible legal consequences if his club lost out financially if sponsors withdrew support due to Folau.