Gag order! Rival coach silenced over Folau clash
Wakefield coach Chris Chester says he's under strict orders not to speak about the Catalans Dragons' controversial signing Israel Folau as he waits to discover if his side will face the dual-code international this weekend.
The French club caused a furore when they ignored the pleas of both English Super League and the Rugby Football League by handing a 12-month contract to Folau after he was sacked by Rugby Australia for posting homophobic comments on social media.
Super League plan to implement measures to prevent any further such signings but the issue is clearly still highly sensitive.
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Huddersfield cancelled their scheduled weekly pre-match press conference ahead of their visit to the Catalans and now Chester has been told not to answer questions on the subject.
"I've been strictly told by the people above and by Super League not to make any comment on anything to do with the gentleman from Catalans and I won't be making any comment on it," Chester said.
"My hands are tied at this moment in time. Whether that changes over the coming weeks, I don't know but I'm under strict guidelines here from my chairman and my CEO and also from Super League.
Trinity captain Jacob Miller referred to the club's support of former teammate Keegan Hirst, the only openly gay player in professional rugby league who has condemned Folau's arrival in the competition.
Asked if he was surprised by the level of controversy, Miller said: "Not really, especially with us having Keegan Hirst last year. It's something we're pretty supportive of as a club."
Miller concedes the former Wallabies and Waratahs winger and fullback would be a potential handful if he makes his debut.
"He's a massive kick target and a big human out on the edges. Hopefully he has another week off," he said.
Folau has been training with his new teammates all week and although he has not played any kind of rugby for 10 months, the Dragons are short of outside backs.
Meanwhile, Wakefield are to hold a celebration of inclusivity when the Catalans visit Belle Vue, with or without Folau, who Tweeted that "hell awaits" gay people.
Wigan have also declared a Pride Day when the Dragons visit to the DW Stadium on March 22 and Trinity chief executive Michael Carter says his club are engaging with LGBT groups in the run up to the fixture.
"We're not trying to just ride a LGBT bandwagon, we already had our PDRL (Physical Disability RL) and LDRL (Learning Disability RL) and ladies teams coming down any way," Carter said.
"We're saying anybody who wants to come down and celebrate the inclusivity of our sport would be very, very welcome.
"What I don't want to do is turn it into some kind of witch-hunt against an individual because then you will always get somebody who takes it too far."