Israel Folau will have a Tongan jersey waiting for him if he restrains himself from “crazy” social media posts and returns to peak form, according to another controversial rugby league star, Andrew Fifita.
- Israel Folau is expected to return to the rugby league field with French club Catalans Dragons this weekend
- Andrew Fifita said he would welcome Folau into the Tongan fold if he stopped the “crazy” social media posts that got him sacked by Rugby Australia
- Folau has represented Australia in both rugby codes, but his parents are Tongan
Folau is preparing to return to the 13-man code with French club Catalans Dragons in the Super League on Sunday morning (AEDT).
A lack of form and fitness have prevented the former Wallaby, who was famously sacked by Rugby Australia (RA) for offensive social media posts, from making his anticipated debut with the Dragons so far this season.
His arrival was not warmly received by stakeholders in the Super League, which is mostly based in England, but the 30-year-old is expected to step onto the park this weekend against Castleford, marking his first competitive game since his RA axing last May.
Should his form hold, it could result in him playing for Tonga down the track.
Coach Kristian Woolf has already left the door open for Folau to be selected in their next Test, pencilled in for June later this year, and Fifita, who has been a key plank in Tonga’s rise as a rugby league powerhouse in recent years, shared the sentiment.
“I welcome anyone. Everyone needs to be forgiven,” he said.
“[But he] can’t come out with those crazy posts again.
“I’m all for God as well, but in saying that, everyone in life deserves to be happy.
“When we’re talking about gays and lesbians, I got one who’s close to me and my sisters. I got family who are also gay and they’ve got the right to be happy.”
There was speculation Folau could have returned for Tonga last year during the bitter war between the Tonga National Rugby League and its players.
“There were a few little loopholes they did to get him available, but I’m not going to go into depth there,” Fifita said.
“For him to come straight into a team where he hasn’t played league in over 10 years, it’s a bit extreme.
“But if he has a really good year, the international jersey would be waiting for him.”
The Minto-born Folau played eight Tests for the Kangaroos during his last stint in rugby league, from 2007 to 2010, but both his parents are Tongan.