League: Eels boiling at Folau delay

By Ben Horne

Parramatta coach says red tape obstructing signing.

Israel Folau is anxious to sign with the Eels, says Parramatta coach Ricky Stuart. Photo / Getty Images
Israel Folau is anxious to sign with the Eels, says Parramatta coach Ricky Stuart. Photo / Getty Images

Parramatta coach Ricky Stuart says the club is "punching its head against a brick wall" in talks with the NRL over Israel Folau and warns the game risks missing out on the superstar if decisions aren't made quickly.

After Folau announced at the start of the month he was leaving the AFL, Stuart said the former test and Queensland Origin back remained anxious to sign with the Eels but red tape was still getting in the way.

The NRL must approve Folau's return to the code before any contract can be ratified, just as rugby convert Sonny Bill Williams' Sydney Roosters deal is yet to be rubber-stamped by league officials.

Stuart said the saga had dragged on to the point where he could no longer be directly involved and he was leaving negotiations to club chief executive Ken Edwards.

"I said early in the piece that we'll move heaven and earth to get Izzy to the club because that's where he wants to play.

"He's come out and said that, he's from here, he's got a number of close mates here, but we're doing that and it's been a long time so I really don't know where it's going to end up," said Stuart yesterday.

"But I can't concentrate on that any more ... all my energy and responsibility has to be put into the team here."

Stuart said no deal had been done between Folau and the Eels and he wanted to distance himself from the specifics of the negotiations between the club and the NRL.

But he was adamant the NRL, which is yet to appoint a chief executive, needed to make a swift decision on Folau's status.

"It'd be disappointing for him to go to another code," he said.

"I've just been working hard as the club has with the league to have him play here but we seem to be just punching our heads against a brick wall," Stuart said.

"We're trying to do the right thing by the game and by the league in being transparent ... it would be just nice to get people in positions to make decisions.

"I just know it's getting quite boring and tedious in terms of taking so long, I just wish someone could make a decision, say yes or no and then we can move on."

- AAP

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