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Tonga ready to fight over Israel Folau By Brent Read
Tongan officials have armed themselves with legal advice that suggests the NRL is powerless to prevent them selecting Israel Folau to make a shock return to rugby league in Test matches against Great Britain and Australia next month. Folau, sacked by Rugby Australia earlier this year after a social media post declaring gays were destined to go to hell unless they repented, is understood to have spoken to his legal team in Melbourne over his ability to turn out for the Tongan rugby league side. The NRL was scrambling on Monday night to block Folau’s comeback after being caught off guard by a press release from the Tongan National Rugby League suggesting Folau and his brother John were ready to turn out for the Tongan national team, the Mate Ma’a. In a statement released through social media, TNRL chairman George Koloamatangi said the Folau brothers were set to play against Great Britain on October 26 and Australia one week later at Eden Park in Auckland. The statement also said neither player was available for the World Cup 9s tournament to be played in Sydney on October 19 because the event was controlled by the NRL. Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter Beattie and NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg have already made it clear Folau is not welcome back. Remarkably, both men are on the Rugby League International Federation and were unaware of Folau’s planned return.