League: Folau chooses rugby over NRL

Israel Folau has once again turned his back on the NRL to take up an offer to play rugby union overseas.

Parramatta and the NRL announced on Friday that Folau would not make a much-anticipated return to the code he left at the end of 2010.

Folau quit AFL's Greater Western Sydney Giants on October 31 saying he wanted to return to rugby league with the Eels.

But after protracted negotiations Parramatta were informed that Folau would instead join rugby, with France's Top 14 competition a possible destination.

"This has come as something of a surprise to us today," Eels chief executive Ken Edwards said in a statement.

"Our offer to Israel was unconditional. We have worked closely with the NRL and have always been confident that salary-cap issues would be resolved.

"It is disappointing that Izzy (Folau) at this stage has chosen to pursue another path but we've also been clear that we are about having players who are focussed on what we are trying to achieve as a club.

"It is why we had previously ruled out short-term appearances with other codes. We are comfortable with our current playing roster ahead of the 2013 season."

The Nine Network reported Folau turned down a four-year deal worth $3 million.

Interim chief executive Shane Mattiske said the NRL and the Eels had done everything they could to lure Folau back to rugby league.

"We worked in good faith with the club to ensure that Israel's contract could be met within the (salary) cap and it is unfortunate that he has elected to pursue another path," said Mattiske.

"It would have been nice to see Israel back in the NRL because it is the game he is most suited to and the one that I think would have given him the biggest challenge in facing the best athletes in the most exciting contests week in and week out.

"Ultimately, though, it is his choice and we have to respect that. I think Parramatta has done everything possible and we have certainly worked closely with them in that process."