Israel Folau is set to represent Tonga at next year’s Rugby League World Cup and line up against the Wallabies in next year’s if his form is good enough, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Tongan team spokesperson and cultural leader John Hopoate has revealed coach Kristian Woolf has spoken to Folau about the possibility of being in the Tongan squad for RLWC 2021.
“The coach, Kristian Woolf, has made contact with him and let him know that if he’s playing good enough he will be in our team,” Hopoate told The Lockdown with Big Fiddy podcast, hosted by Fidel Tukel.
Folau’s controversial religious posts could have been handled better, according to Hopoate.
“We’ve got nothing against Izzy, everyone has thier own beliefs,” Hopoate said.
“I think he did it the wrong way. I’ve got a lot of gay family and gay friends, I don’t give a crap which way you bat.”
Hopoate said the International Rugby League had stated Tonga would have no objections for picking Folau to pull on a Tongan jumper.
“It comes under the international game, the IRL, they said he’s allowed to play.
“If he is playing good enough he will come into the team,” Hopoate said.
“But he’s not going to walk straight into the team, we’ve just come off any Australian win, so these guys who have stuck strong by us in the last couple of years will get first opportunity.
“If someone gets injured, or if Israel’s playing too good where he had to pick him, then yes he’s going to get picked.
“But in saying that he has to beat these other guys that have been there before him and have stuck their necks out for Tonga and said no to New Zealand and Australia.
“But we’re not going to say no to him.”
After last year’s upset wins over Australian and Great Britain, Tonga will bee seen as one of the major threats in the competition.
The potential to join the Tonga team would be Israel Folau’s opportunity to resurrect his international sporting career after missing out on last year’s Rugby World Cup. He had played 73 Tests for the Wallabies.
Foula took a confidential settlement from Rugby Australia in January following a long legal battle in regards to his social media posts about homosexuals that led to his contract being terminated. The settlement is believed to be around $4 million.
After being sacked by Rugby Australia, Folau tried to return to the NRL, but the league made it clear to clubs they would not be able to sign him due to his divisive beliefs.
Folau has since being playing for French Super League clun Catalans, after signing a one-year contract, before the coronavirus put an end to the season. His contract with Catalans has strick social media rules he has to follow.