New four-year deal for Wallaby Folau

SYDNEY (AFP) – Superstar fullback Israel Folau inked a new four-year deal Saturday with the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs until the end of 2022, putting to bed any concerns that he may move overseas.

The divisive 29-year-old, who switched to union from rugby league in 2013, currently has the fourth most tries in Australian Test history.

“I’m really grateful to Rugby Australia and the Waratahs for all they have done for me. When I made the switch to rugby five years ago, I could never have dreamed that it would have gone this well,” he said.

“The World Cup is a big target of mine this year and I believe this Wallabies group can go a long way if we keep on improving.

“I’m looking forward to working hard and doing whatever I can to help the team achieve what we want to achieve both this year and into the future.”

Folau’s rugby union future seemed in doubt after he wrote insensitive comments about sexuality on social media last April.

The comments sparked an uproar and led to him being called in by Rugby Australia officials, prompting speculation he might return to rugby league or move overseas.

But Rugby Australia ultimately decided against any disciplinary action and Folau has continued in the Test side.

“Israel’s contribution to the Wallabies since making the switch shows why he’s one of the best players in the world,” said Australia coach Michael Cheika.