Queensland Rugby League won't register Israel Folau's contract unless given clearance to do so by his UK Super League club Catalans.
At a press conference last week, Folau announced he was making a comeback to rugby league Down Under after signing with amateur club Southport Tigers in the Gold Coast's A-Grade competition.
Clive Palmer is backing Folau's move to Southport, but the deal still needs to be ratified by the QRL. The mining magnate threatened to issue a Federal Court injunction against the governing body for religious discrimination if it didn't give Folau the green light by Wednesday — but whether he follows through with his threat remains to be seen.
On Wednesday the QRL rejected Folau's bid to turn out for Southport — for now, at least — saying it would need to be given the all-clear by Catalans — who the controversial footy star abandoned midway through his contract.
The QRL also said it was "astounded" legal threats had been made publicly.
"The QRL have not received confirmation that Folau is released from his existing playing contract, nor has he received a clearance from his last known registered overseas club," the QRL said in a statement.
"The QRL cannot proceed with any registration approval until such time as the clearance is received — this is in accordance with current national policy regarding international clearances playing at any level of the game.
"On receipt of international clearance, Folau will be granted permission to register for the Southport Tigers at a community rugby league level and no higher, as per the registration request that has been made."
Getting clearance from Catalans may prove a tough ask for Folau, after the Dragons revealed they were blindsided by his move to Southport because they expected him to turn out for them again this season.
The club granted Folau compassionate leave to return to Australia during the pandemic but he is still contracted to the French side this year.
When noises were being made about a potential return to the NRL with St George, Catalans hit out and said they expected Folau back with them this season. Catalans football manager Alex Chan said on the weekend he was "shocked" by recent developments.
"Our stance hasn't changed," Chan told PA. "We've given Israel and his family time to get back together and make sure that everything is going good and we expected that, once Izzy found some stability, we've left the door open.
"We still hold his contract, he's still a registered player with Catalans Dragons. It was a big shock to see what was put out there.
"We can't just let things happen like this. I've got to meet with the club president and our directors but I've already made our legal team aware of the situation that is starting to unfold.
"We need to start being proactive from our end in case things start to escalate and go nasty."
Folau's contract with Rugby Australia was torn up in 2019 for homophobic posts made on social media, and it was earlier reported the QRL wants a written guarantee from the 32-year-old he will not publicly express his views on homosexuality — which include the belief gay people will go to hell unless they repent for their sins.
In its statement, the QRL said: "The QRL acknowledge that previous social media comments made by Folau, whilst not a registered participant in rugby league at the time, do not align to the beliefs of the game, or the QRL.
"The QRL is an inclusive organisation with a proud diversity and inclusion framework."