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Tonga Offer Israel Folau International Rugby Lifeline

Israel Folau

Tonga head coach, Toutai Kefu, has opened the door for Israel Folau to join the Pacific island international side ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France. 

Kefu revealed to the Sydney Morning Herald that he has been in contact with Folau’s camp following the disgraced stars sacking over his controversial comments that “Hell awaits” homosexuals.

Folau’s brother, John, is likely to be selected for the Tongan national side for the upcoming World Cup in Japan and it is thought that the two brothers would love the opportunity to play alongside one another.

The younger Folau, last week renegade on a deal to return to Rugby League in favour of trying to resurrect his Union career and has since been in contact with the Tongan national side about potentially featuring for them in Japan this September.

Despite not having seen the younger Folau play, Kefu admitted he is most certainly on their radar.

“He’s definitely on our radar and we’ve already spoken to him,” said Kefu.

“I’ve actually never seen him play but I’ve got a playing history of him. We’re going to look at him and even may take him to the PNC because we’ve got some holes in our squad, especially out wide in the backs. There’s a good chance he will be part of that squad.

“You look at what he has done; he’s played in the NRL for a couple of years and he’s been on the fringe of Super Rugby for a couple of years. He definitely qualifies because he’s got a Tongan passport.

“If he’s played in those competitions before he’s certainly good enough to have a trial for us and then we can see whether he is good enough to be part of that Rugby World Cup squad.”

The bigger shock, however, is news that the Pacific Island side want to reunite the brothers and bring the controversial former Australian full-back back from the international wilderness.

Given that he has already represented the Wallabies, Folau cannot make the switch straight away but there is a loophole that will allow him to represent Tonga in time for 2023.

“We’d love to have him … the next World Cup he’d be available for us hopefully,” said Kefu.

“It’s a long time away, so we’ll let the dust settle a bit after his most recent issues. We don’t even know if he’s going to play again. He hasn’t indicated where he is going, so we’ll wait until the dust settles and then look at those options.”

“He’d have to sit out three years and then even after that we’d have to re-qualify him through a sevens Olympic qualifying tournament.”

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