September 23, 2019 / 9:31 AM / 23 days ago

Rugby-Folau announces shock rugby league return with Tonga

Sept 23 (Reuters) - Sacked Wallabies fullback Israel Folau is set to make a surprise return to rugby league with the Tonga national team, the 30-year-old said on Monday.

Folau’s four-year contract for Rugby Australia (RA) and New South Wales Waratahs was torn up in May after he was found guilty of a “high-level” breach of RA’s code of conduct for posting on social media that hell awaits ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers’ and other groups.

Folau is unable to feature for Tonga in next month’s World Nines at Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium because the event is run by the National Rugby League who have blocked a return to the code for him.

But he will be eligible to play in the test matches against Britain (Oct. 26) and Australia (Nov. 2) as those games are sanctioned and controlled by the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF).

“I don’t want to bring any of my personal matters into this and I am grateful that the RLIF have endorsed my availability,” Folau said in a Tongan Rugby League statement.

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

Folau has taken RA to the Federal Court claiming he was unfairly dismissed on religious grounds.

He is seeking $5 million plus compensation for foregone sponsorship and future contract income from RA and his former Super Rugby side, the Waratahs. (Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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