Israel Folau

Wallaby superstar Folau to make Tonga debut

Flying wing Folau played 73 Tests for Australia before being sacked in 2019 for posting homophobic messages on his social media account.

He will line up alongside former All Blacks Charles Piutau and Malakai Fekitoa.

Two others switching are scrum-half Augustine Pulu and Fiji centre Seta Tamanivalu, who both played a handful of Tests for the All Blacks.

They have all taken advantage of new eligibility rules which allow players to represent a country where they have a birthright, providing they haven't played Test rugby for three years.

Tonga to apply social media restrictions on Israel Folau

Folau, an evangelical Christian, will soon make his return to international rugby, three years on from the termination of his Wallabies contract after he posted a meme on social media that said “hell” awaits homosexual people and other groups.

Former World Cup winner and Wallabies great Kefu said he had yet to discuss social media with Folau but trusted the 33-year-old would not cause problems for his team in the meantime.

“That’s probably the elephant in the room,” the Tonga coach told Reuters.

Stars lining up to play for Ikale Tahi

The former All Black and Wallaby representatives were named in a team announcement by the Tonga Rugby Union today.

It is a historic moment for Pacific rugby, with eligibility rules now allowing Pacific Islanders players to play for their home countries.

'Ikale Tahi head coach Toutai Kefu said the selection will make a huge difference to the quality of Tongan rugby.

Israel Folau keen to face Wallabies in 2023 grudge match

The 33-year-old now looks nailed on to represent Tonga at the Rugby World Cup next year, according to head coach Toutai Kefu.

What’s more, his inclusion in Kefu’s plans could see Folau line up against Australia as early as next year, with the Wallabies set to Tonga in Brisbane.

Folau qualifies under a new World Rugby regulation which allows players to represent a second nation that they have links to, provided they have sat out a three-year period of not playing for the initial nation they declared for.

Damian McKenzie and Israel Folau star in Japan

McKenzie, taking over from fellow All Black Barrett as the star import at the Tokyo Sungoliath, was instrumental in their 60-46 win over the Brave Lupus in the opening weekend of the revamped 2022 League One season.

McKenzie kicked nine goals - four conversions and five penalties - for 23 points.

Playing at fullback, he sparked plenty of counter-attacks in the high-scoring affair.

Recalled Wallaby Sean McMahon scored three tries for the Sungoliath who are looking to go one better this year after finishing runner-up in 2021.

‘Tonga will welcome back Israel Folau’ – Aleki Lutui

The disgraced former Wallaby was sacked by Rugby Australia for posting homophobic comments in an Instagram post in 2019.

Folau then fought a significant legal battle with the governing body, which was eventually settled in December of that year.

In 2020, he returned to rugby league – the sport where his professional career began – and signed a deal with Catalan Dragons.

The 32-year-old was released from his contract in 2021 and returned to Australia, citing ‘personal reasons’, but has since joined Japanese rugby union outfit Shining Arcs.

New rules could see Israel Folau's international return with Tonga

The world governing body approved a major amendment to their eligibility policy on Wednesday which will allow players to switch countries more easily from next January.

It looks set to pave the path for the likes of Folau, one of the Wallabies’ most outstanding backs who was sacked by Australia over homophobic social media posts, to launch a second international career thanks to his Tongan heritage.

And the move could prove a huge boon for developing rugby nations – particularly the Pacific Island sides Tonga, Samoa and Fiji – in time for the 2023 World Cup in France.

‘We’d welcome him with open arms’: Folau ‘keen’ on remarkable Rugby World Cup comeback

The World Rugby Council will meet on November 24 to vote on a proposal to allow players to represent a second nation.

World Rugby officials want Pacific island nations to be strengthened by being able to pick homegrown players who have made their Test debuts for other countries.

Folau has not played rugby union since he was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 following a controversial social media post.

The 32-year-old played for French rugby league outfit the Catalans last year but is on the cusp of a union comeback in Japanese rugby.

Catalans Dragons release dual-code Australia international

The 32-year-old centre had announced his intention to join Queensland-based side Southport Tigers last month.

Queensland Rugby League refused to ratify the move because he was still contracted to his Super League club.

Folau signed an extension with Catalans for 2021 but the club has agreed to release him with immediate effect.

Catalans had initially been considering legal action, with the French side club's football manager Alex Chan saying last month he was "shocked" by news of Folau's bid to make a playing return in Australia.

Folau's amateur rugby league hopes hit contract hurdle

The dual code international is looking to play with his two brothers at Southport Tigers in the Gold Coast amateur competition, two years after he was sacked by Rugby Australia for social media posts deemed discriminatory by rugby union's governing body.

The Queensland Rugby League (QRL) said it could not register Folau because he had not provided confirmation of his release from a contract with his previous team.

Folau played a season for French side Catalan Dragons before quitting the Super League club last year and returning to Australia with his family.