Israel Folau wants to play for Tonga if World Rugby approves changes to eligibility laws


Israel Folau lost his job with Rugby Australia as the result of comments he posted on social media.

Israel Folau lost his job with Rugby Australia as the result of comments he posted on social media.Credit:Getty

Tonga have not qualified for the 2023 Rugby World Cup but have featured at the past seven tournaments.

Folau taking on the Wallabies at a World Cup would be compulsory viewing.

Kefu told the Herald in 2019 he would be interested in luring Folau to Tonga one day and says if it came to fruition it would be warmly received.

“I think everyone would react quite positively,” Kefu said. “To see one of the greats back playing rugby is a real bonus in itself. I’ll ring him straight after they decide on November 24.”

Told November 24, the day of the upcoming vote, is three years to the day since Folau played his final Test, Kefu said: “Maybe there is some alignment there, maybe some divine intervention.”

Kefu says the rule change would benefit Tonga immensely and believes there are “six or seven” players he could extract from other nations throughout the world.

“We probably stand to benefit the most out of any country, only because we have a lot of players who have played for New Zealand and Australia who are now plying their trade overseas,” Kefu said.

Former Wallabies back-rower Lopeti Timani will make his Test debut for Tonga this weekend against England, four years since he last pulled on a gold jersey. He had to qualify through the sevens route.


“I spoke with him leading up to the campaign and he was absolutely looking forward to playing this November,” Kefu said. “That whole qualification through the Olympic sevens … it was so complicated. To get players ready for that, I don’t think people understand just how difficult that is.”

Tonga will be looking to improve on their 35-3 loss to England in the pool stages of the 2019 World Cup when they clash at Twickenham on Sunday morning (2.15am AEDT).

“We were really competitive until probably the last 20 minutes where our boys made some poor decisions and we got a little bit tired,” Kefu said. “The team that has been chosen to play this weekend is the strongest team we’ve put out since the World Cup.”

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