Israel Folau’s desire to return to rugby league via Tonga has been backed by Siliva Havili as the controversial former Wallabies star awaits his fate.
Folau – who was sacked by Rugby Australia (RA) for homophobic posts on social media in April – plans to make a rugby league comeback for Tonga in Tests against Great Britain and Australia.
A former Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos star in the NRL, Folau in July opened court proceedings against his former employer after his contract was terminated for expressing views which breached the team’s code of conduct on his official channels.
Folau and the Tonga National Rugby League announced his selection in the squad for the upcoming games on October 26 and November 2, however, the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) denied the 30-year-old has been approved to represent the 2017 Rugby League World Cup semi-finalists.
“@IntRL is aware of a media release issued by @tongaNRL stating that Israel Folau has been ‘approved’ by the RLIF to represent Tonga in international matches.
“That statement is incorrect, the RLIF has not been formally asked to consider this matter.”
— International RL (@IntRL) September 23, 2019
Asked about Folau – who last played rugby league in 2010 before switching to rugby union in 2013 following a spell in Australian rules football – with the RLIF expected to discuss the matter on Thursday, Tonga veteran Havili said: “Hundred per cent. I would love to see him play. It’s good for the international game and it’s good for our little nation.
“He is a superstar in his own right, in both codes he was. Having that sort of player in our team makes us a big threat.
“It’s exciting what we can display. Not only for us, but for nations like Samoa and Fiji if they can have players come to them, it’s going to be exciting for international rugby league.”
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