Great Britain

Israel Folau scores try with first touch as Catalans Dragons probe claims rainbow flag in the crowd was forcibly removed

STEVE McNAMARA says Israel Folau needs to explain himself — after a rainbow flag row erupted.

Controversial Folau enjoyed a try-scoring debut as Catalans beat Castleford 36-18.

But Dragons will today probe claims two gay pride flags were forcibly removed in France on Saturday.

The Aussie, 30, was axed from rugby union Down Under for a homophobic online rant claiming ‘Hell awaits’ gay people.

Nine months on, his Super League bow sparked protest flags from travelling Tigers fans.

When asked what he would say to protestors, boss McNamara replied: “As time moves on, Israel will get a chance to have a chat.

“At some point he will speak — he needs to. People just don’t know the person.

“Give him time, let him get on the field and let’s understand the person a bit more after that.

“Judgments have been made. When I go to sign a player, I work out what type of person he is.

Is he a good person? Is he a good player? Will he add value to the team? I don’t judge them on political or religious beliefs.”

Folau scored a try with his first touch as he made a return to rugby league after ten years away.

Castleford fan Alison Grey alleged on Twitter she was told to remove her flag in the Perpignan stands.

Another supporter claimed: “I saw security speak to her, pointing at the flag.

“They weren’t happy with it from the off and were trying to cover it all up.

“Another Cas fan had a rainbow flag hung over the stand and a security guard told them to take it down.”

Catalans chiefs insisted they welcome all flags and banners — unless offensive.

Super League bosses have also confirmed they will investigate the matter.

Disgraced rugby player Israel Folau signs for Catalans Dragons