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Mon, September 23, 2019

Sacked rugby union player Israel Folau announces rugby league return with Tonga

Israel Folau who has Tongan heritage is set to return to rugby league to play for Tonga after being sacked by the Australian rugby union team for expressing homophobic views on social media.

In May, Rugby Australia announced the official termination of Folau’s contract following a high-level Code of Conduct breach.

30-year-old player has taken Rugby Australia to court claiming he was unfairly dismissed and discriminated against on religious grounds. He is seeking $10m in damages and wants his multimillion-dollar contract reinstated.

The Tongan National Rugby League is believed to have confirmed Folau and his brother John will represent the Pacific Island in their upcoming games against Great Britain and Australia in New Zealand later this year.

In a statement, Folau said he was excited to return to rugby league.

"I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to represent God, my family, my heritage and the people of Tonga," he said. "I am thankful that the RLIF have accepted my availability to play."

"I don't want to bring any of my personal matters into this and I am grateful that the RLIF have endorsed my availability."

"What I will do now is focus on playing great rugby league and do my talking on the field."

It is unclear, however, if the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) has officially given the green light to the registration.

In June, The Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman and the Deputy Chairman of the RLIF Peter Beattie said, “Our position on Israel Folau remains the same"

"We are an inclusive game with respect for all. Israel has social media posts online that go against what our game stands for."

“As it stands, he will not be considered for registration. What Israel chooses to do in relation to his social media posts and his faith is a matter for him.”

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