Folau begins training
Israel Folau has begun training with his new team-mates in the south of France as Catalans Dragons chairman Bernard Guasch prepares to face the music over the controversial signing.
The French Super League club imposed a media blackout after announcing a week ago that the dual-code international - banned by Rugby Australia last May over homophobic comments he made on social media - has signed a 12-month contract with them.
The Catalans refused to say when the player was due to arrive from Australia and cancelled plans for a press conference following a barrage of unwelcome publicity.
Folau, who said “hell awaits” gay people, is thought to have flown in on Monday and was seen arriving at Stade Gilbert Brutus on Tuesday morning.
The Dragons’ next match is at Wakefield on Sunday and coach Steve McNamara could be tempted to include him in his squad after losing a host of outside backs to injury.
Folau, signed as a straight replacement for Fiji international Brayden Wiliame, has been out of action since last playing for the Warratahs last April and his last game of league was 10 years ago.
Meanwhile, Guasch is expected to make a rare appearance at a meeting of Super League clubs in Salford on Wednesday to explain his club’s behaviour.
The vast majority of clubs, along with the Rugby Football League and Super League, have publicly stated their opposition to the signing and made a request for Guasch to attend what is a routine get-together but with the Folau signing set to come up under any other business.
Folau sued Rugby Australia for £7.4million after it terminated his contract and reached a settlement in December after arguing it amounted to religious discrimination.
Guasch has insisted the Dragons do not agree with Folau’s views and says they signed an agreement with the RFL that any transgression will trigger an immediate termination of the player’s contract and a substantial fine for the club.
Ryan Brierley's Hull KR column
The noise when I scored was something you can’t really put into words either. It’s a bizarre thing.
When I tell fans on social media how good it is it doesn’t really do it justice. That level of noise and support raises your game massively and you don’t want to let them down. Please keep doing it, it’s unbelievable.
I’ve been told that was nothing compared with a derby atmosphere and if I get the nod it’ll be the biggest game I’ve ever played in.
READ MORE HERE
Scott Taylor column
A great column from Hull FC’s Scott Taylor this week as he gives us an insight into the FC dressing room and the issues with the club’s victory song on Sunday.
It was great to win and great to get into the changing room and sing the victory song.
However, here’s where we’ve encountered a problem at the start of the season.
First up, some of the new boys still don’t know the words and need to get practicing. Some of the efforts were pretty bad on Sunday.
The new lads were told they had to start the song after the game at Leeds and you can see that look of panic.
It’s a bit like the look men have when Gaz Ellis or Manu Ma’u are running in at them.
SEE THE FULL COLUMN HERE
Smith's KR injury update
Mitch Garbutt is set to play in Friday’s derby but Hull KR head coach Tony Smith is waiting on the fitness of Matt Parcell and Jordan Abdull.
Garbutt started on the bench in last week’s victory over Wakefield Trinity and produced a typically tenacious performance in his first game back after knee surgery.
Smith expects the prop to back up at the KCOM Stadium but Abdull could miss the short trip to former club Hull FC after sustaining an unspecified injury in the Super League opener.
The playmaker, who started at loose forward against Wakefield, woke up sore on Saturday morning and is considered a doubt for the round two fixture.
“We thought we came through unscathed but Jordan has just got something he’s looking into and is having a scan this afternoon so fingers crossed,” said Smith.
“Mitch came through great and everybody else has trained both on Saturday and today other than Jordan so everybody is good.”
Radford's FC warning
Lee Radford has warned his Hull FC players to keep their focus and be smart in a short but intense derby week.
Fresh from their opening-round win at Leeds Rhinos on Sunday, FC are back in action Friday night when hosting Hull KR for the first derby of the season and Hull’s first home game.
While Rovers have had a week to prepare since beating Wakefield Trinity last Friday in their first game, FC’s time has been cut short.
Radford is not concerned about having two days less to be ready for the eagerly-anticipated clash, but has underlined the need for his group to maximise the short time they will have this week to get ready for the clash.
“We did recovery Monday, we’ve recovery today and we’ll do our only full day’s training on Wednesday, then the team run on Thursday,” explained Radford.
SEE THE FULL STORY HERE
Wane's England plan
Shaun Wane insists he will do the job his way after succeeding Australian Wayne Bennett as England coach.
The Rugby Football League turned to the former Wigan boss after deciding the national team’s requirement in the run-up to the 2021 World Cup was a full-time coach based in England.
Bennett was jettisoned after doing the job at arm’s length for four years while concentrating on his full-time role in the NRL and Wane says he will learn from his predecessor’s perceived faults.
“When I was a club coach I said I would have done things differently and now I’m England coach, I will do,” he said after starting his two-year contract with immediate effect.
“I’ll not only liaise with the head coaches but physios, strength and conditioners and the players playing for that club.
“It’s showing them the respect they deserve and making sure they’re included in everything. It’s about getting that link back.
“I watch most games anyway but I’ll be going to more games, meeting more players and I’ll go out to Super League clubs watching them train.
“I don’t know how important that was to the previous coach. I think it would have been had he been here but the fact is I’m here and it’s massively important. It’s also the decent thing to do.
“When I sent players away on international duty, I needed that feedback and connection and it wasn’t the way I wanted it. Now I’ve got a chance to improve that.”
Great Britain’s disastrous tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea proved the last straw for RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer and Wane admitted he was frustrated as he watched the matches from 11,000 miles away.
Bennett was heavily criticised for his tour selection and in particular his decision to play stand-off Blake Austin on the wing despite Ash Handley having flown over from England for the last match.
“I’m very different to Wayne Bennett,” Wane said. “I don’t know all the details of what he did. He would have had his own reasons.
“I just thought in a few areas we could have been smarter, there would have been quite easy fixes.”
Bennett was also condemned in some quarters for selecting Australia-born players in his Lions squad but Wane insists he will not be restricting himself to England-born players.
“Anybody who is flying fit and healthy who I think can help us win the Ashes will play,” he said.
“I desperately want to win the Ashes, can you imagine that for a Wigan kid? I never thought it would happen so I want us to do that and go into the World Cup flying with confidence.”