Israel Folau: Tonga will impose restrictions on social media ahead of international rugby return | Rugby Union News

Israel Folau was named in Tonga’s squad for the Pacific Nations Cup, three years after he was sacked by Rugby Australia for homophobic comments on social media; Tongan coach Toutai Kefu said he was confident Folau would not cause any problems for the team

Last Updated: 6/1/22 7:46 AM

Israel Folau played in Japan for club side Shining Arcs

Israel Folau played in Japan for club side Shining Arcs

Israel Folau will be a welcome addition to Tongan rugby but will have restrictions on what he posts on social media, head coach Toutai Kefu said.

Folau, an evangelical Christian, will soon return to international rugby, three years after his dismissal by Rugby Australia due to homophobic comments he posted on social media.

Former World Cup winner and Wallabian grand Kefu said he had not yet discussed social media with Folau, but was confident the 33-year-old would not cause any problems for his team in the meantime.

“That’s probably the elephant in the room,” Kefu said. “Right now, [trust] is what we should probably trust.

“But I mean, we would have some restrictions, as we always do every campaign with all the players.

“I’m sure we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

Folau joined the Catalans Dragons in 2020 and there has been controversy over his Super League debut after some Castleford fans said they were ordered to remove rainbow flags.

Please use a Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Folau joined the Catalans Dragons in 2020 and there has been controversy over his Super League debut after some Castleford fans said they were ordered to remove rainbow flags.

Folau joined the Catalans Dragons in 2020 and there has been controversy over his Super League debut after some Castleford fans said they were ordered to remove rainbow flags.

Folau’s outside back has posted only a few times to the more than 400,000 followers on his social media since he was fired in 2019.

While the post that led to his dismissal remains in one of his accounts, the international double code has moved away from controversy as he resumed his professional rugby career.

Folau returned to rugby 13 in 2020 after he was thrown a lifeline by Catalans Dragons, despite opposition from their rival Super League clubs and the board.

Folau won five tries in 15 appearances for Catalans before returning to Australia

Please use a Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Folau won five tries in 15 appearances for Catalans before returning to Australia

Folau won five tries in 15 appearances for Catalans before returning to Australia

He played in 15 of a possible 17 matches and agreed to a contract extension until the end of 2021. However, he did not return for pre-season, the Dragons allowing him to stay in Australia to take part in a “personal family situation”. .

Catalans agreed to release the international double code in June 2021 to enable him to resume his career in Australia.

Folau, who has won 37 tries in 73 Tests for the Wallabies, was named in Kefu’s squad last week for next month’s Pacific Nations Cup, which will feature hosts Fiji, Samoa and the Australian ‘A’ team.

He will also be in the selection squad for the 2023 World Cup final in Tonga against the Asian side on July 23, to be held on Australia’s Sunshine Coast.

Charles Piutau of Bristol (pictured) and Folau changed allegiance to Tonga

Charles Piutau of Bristol (pictured) and Folau changed allegiance to Tonga

World Rugby’s decision last year to allow players to change their international loyalty paved the way for Folau to represent Tonga, along with former All Blacks Charles Piutau and Malakai Fekitoa.

Kefu is excited about what Folau and other international experts could do for Tonga rugby, which has long struggled to retain talent despite more lucrative opportunities abroad.

“I have known Israel for a long time,” said Kefu. “He will bring his professional mindset, he will bring a set of skills that we have never seen in our environment.

“We will also have a good group of young players.

“Imagine their eyes when they are in the room with similarities of Piutau and Malakai and Israel.

“This will be a wonderful opportunity for these young children to learn.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.