Israel Folau offered route back into international rugby by Tonga

Folau could feature at 2023 World Cup after a three year international hiatus

Israel Folau has been offered a route back into international rugby by Tonga. Photograph:  Henry Browne/Reuters

Israel Folau has been offered a route back into international rugby by Tonga. Photograph: Henry Browne/Reuters

 

Israel Folau has been offered a route back to international rugby with Tonga.

Folau currently finds himself in the wilderness after his contracts with both Rugby Australia and club side Waratahs were terminated after he posted homophobic comments on social media in April.

The 30-year-old has since instigated legal action against the governing body and is understood to be demanding damages in the region of 10million Australian dollars.

There is, however, an international lifeline for Folau, should he wish to choose it, being offered by Tonga coach and 60-times capped former Wallaby Toutai Kefu.

Although Folau has represented Australia, there is a loophole that would allow him to play for Tonga.

Folau would have to sit out international rugby for three years before taking part in an Olympic sevens qualifying tournament, which in turn would allow him to compete in the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Kefu said: “We’d love to have him ... the next World Cup he’d be available for us hopefully.

“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.”

A factor behind any potential decision is that Folau’s brother, John, is set to be named in Tonga’s World Cup squad over the next few days.

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