Wallabies Fullback Israel Folau Could Be Set For A Return To International Rugby
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The way back.
Sacked for Wallabies fullback Israel Folau could be set for a return to rugby union and the Test arena with Tonga head coach Toutai Kefu saying he has ‘no concerns’ the prospect of the 32-year-old switching allegiance.
Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia back in 2019 following a series of controversial homophobic posts on social media, with the devout Christian refusing back down despite several attempts.
A settlement was reached and Folua returned to rugby not long after but switched codes to league, joining the Catalan Dragons.
He spent one season at the Super League side but now once again finds himself unattached with a number of Top 14 clubs believed to be interested in snapping him up.
And head coach Kefu, appointed to a second stint by the Tonga RU last week, is willing to forgive him for his past discretions.
“He’s Tongan, he’s a bloody good player – we’re more than happy to have him and accommodate him… we’d have no concerns,” Kefu told Radio NZ.
“We all grew up the same way. We all went to Sunday School and then there’s different divisions of religion that we all grew up in. We certainly all support Israel and his views.”
Folau would need to complete a three-year stand-down period before becoming eligible to play for a country where he holds another passport. He last played for the Wallabies on their European tour in November of 2018.
But he must come through the Olympics to switch allegiances and won’t be eligible in time to get in for this cycle meaning it will be after the 2023 Rugby World Cup before he’ll be eligible under the current laws, although there have been calls to change them.
Kefu has also been in talks with Bristol Bears fullback Charles Piutau, Wasps centre Malakai Fekitoa and Clermont Auvergne wing George Moala about representing Tonga.