Former Wallaby Folau will have social media brakes – Tonga coach

Rugby League – Super League – Hull FC v Catalans Dragons – KCOM Stadium, Hull, Britain – March 1, 2020. Catalans Dragons’ Israel Folau. Action Images via Reuters/Craig Brough

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MELBOURNE, June 1 (Reuters) – Israel Folau will be a valuable addition to Tongan rugby but will have restrictions on what he posts on social media, along with all his teammates, coach Toutai Kefu has said.

Folau, an evangelical Christian, will soon return to international rugby, three years after his contract with the Wallabies ended after posting a meme on social media saying ‘hell’ awaits gay people and other groups . Read more

Former World Cup winner and Wallabies great Kefu said he has yet to discuss social media with Folau but is confident the 33-year-old won’t cause his team problems meanwhile.

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“It’s probably the elephant in the room,” he told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

“At this point, (trust) is what we probably have to rely on.

“But I mean, we would have certain restrictions, like we always do in every campaign with all players.

“I’m sure we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

Away, Folau has only posted a handful of the more than 400,000 followers on his social media accounts since being sacked by Rugby Australia and his former Super Rugby team New South Wales Waratahs in 2019.

While the meme that sparked his dismissal remains on his Instagram account, the dual-code international has avoided controversy while restarting his professional rugby career.

Folau, who has scored 37 tries in 73 Tests for the Wallabies, was named in Kefu’s squad last week for next month’s Pacific Nations Cup, which will feature hosts Fiji, Samoa and a team” A” Australian.

He will also be part of Tonga’s 2023 World Cup qualifier against an Asia-based side on July 23, to be held on Australia’s Sunshine Coast.

World Rugby’s decision last year to allow players to switch international allegiances paved the way for Folau to represent Tonga, alongside former All Blacks Charles Piutau and Malakai Fekitoa.

Kefu is excited about what Folau and other seasoned internationals could do for Tongan rugby, which has long struggled to retain talent in the face of more lucrative opportunities overseas.

“I’ve known Israel for a long time. He’s going to bring his professional spirit, he’s going to bring a skill set that we haven’t seen in our environment,” Kefu said.

“We are also going to have a good group of young players.

“Imagine their eyes when they’re in the room with people like Piutau, Malakai and Israel.

“It will be a fantastic opportunity for these young people to learn.”

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Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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