Sale Sharks coach Steve Diamond has denied reports the English premiership club were reportledy set to offer Israel Folau a contract worth $1.5 million a year, depite his controversial views on homosexuality.
Diamond has told the Sun newspaper that the club won't be making a play for the Wallabies and Waratahs fullback, whose contract with Rugby Australia ends this year.
"We don't want to be associated with that," Diamond said.
According to the Rugby Paper, Sale were set to offer Folau a deal of 750,000 pounds a season.
News of Sale chasing Folau didn't go down well with many Sharks fans and UK rugby pundits on social media and discussion boards.
NRL boss Todd Greenberg said recently Folau's religious views wouldn't be acceptable in rugby league but has said since, repeatedly, he wants the former Storm and Broncos star back in the 13-man game.
Folau has made it clear he will not back down from his beliefs, however, meaning a return to league by the 29-year-old could put Greenberg's conviction that diversity "can't be just words on a wall" under a serious examination.
The money on offer in rugby - Sale's reported offer was around double what a top-line centre could get in the NRL - would point to Folau remaining in the 15-man game.
The Rugby Paper even suggested Folau could earn command in excess of $2 million a season, mostly likely in France.
While Folau has always been a cleanskin, Japanese rugby clubs are extensions of corporate brands and they're notorious for turning away players with histories of public drama and controversy, even DUI convictions.
Rugby Australia have hit pause on their contract talks with Folau while the inclusivity-vs-freedom of speech debate rages on.
Folau is believed to be keen to stay in Australian rugby, with the World Cup next year a big carrot with his wife Maria due to play in the netball World Cup for New Zealand next year, too.
Whether Rugby Australia will change strategy on their contract negotiations with Folau remains to be seen, however.
Folau's marketing value to the code is undoubtedly reduced after the last month and, allied with sponsor's views, that could easily have an impact on the size - and length - of RA's contract offer.
- With Daily Telegraph