It seems Israel Folau may have been receiving mixed messages in his quest to offer divine salvation after he was greeted by a bounding rainbow on his first day of training with the Catalans Dragons.
Journalists had expected to meet with Folau for the first time since announcing his return to league with the French Super League outfit but were rebuffed, with the Dragons opting to conduct their own in-house interview over a traditional press-conference.
The move denied local media the chance to address the firestorm of Folau’s recruitment, with rival Hull Kingston Rovers threatening potential legal action if his arrival leads to financial repercussions or reputational damage across the competition.
But nothing could have prepared reporters for what followed.
Like a sign from above, a massive rainbow formed over Stade Gilbert Brutus as journalists gathered to watch Folau’s return to the field in his first training session.
“Izzy’t a sign?” tweeted journalist Steven Brady who spotted the phenomenon and the forming Twitter hysteria.
“Sat at Stade Brutus this morning trying to find the lesser-spotted Folau and a rainbow popped out of nowhere. What does it mean? Is it a sign? What’s it all about?”
A rainbow is the universal symbol for gay pride.
Folau’s recent return to rugby league has polarised sections of the game after he was sacked by Rugby Australia last year for expressing homophobic views on social media.
Despite the irony of his first day, the 73-Test star said he was glad to be back in a team environment after a lengthy stint on the sideline.
“I’m excited to be back playing the game that I grew up playing,” Folau said.
“It’s been 10 years since I last played rugby league and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of a great organisation.
“I’m here to compete and play some good footy, and hopefully be a consistent player for the team.
“I missed that team camaraderie, the team environment and being around your teammates, being able to train and working alongside the coaches.
“That’s something I’ve missed the last seven months but it’s fantastic to be back in that team environment again, and getting back in that routine of training with the boys.”