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'We'd love to have Izzy'

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Island nation is prepared to offer Israel Folau a Test level return

Tonga coach Toutai Kefu wants to convince controversial Wallaby full-back Israel Folau to switch nations and be part of the Pacific Island’s squad for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

Folau has been sacked by the Australian Rugby Union for his social media attacks on gay people claiming they would be going to hell. 

Kefu has been in contact with the player’s representative and hopes a decision to include his brother John in Tonga’s World Cup squad in Japan this year could sway his decision to move countries.

Kefu is working on the premise that Folau would have to sit out international rugby for three years and then participate in an Olympic sevens qualifying tournament to have any chance of making the switch.

“We’d love to have him… the next World Cup he’d be available for us hopefully.” Kefu told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“It’s a long time away, so we’ll let the dust settle a bit after his most recent issues. We don’t even know if he’s going to play again. He hasn’t indicated where he is going, so we’ll wait until the dust settles and then look at those options.

“He’d have to sit out three years and then even after that we’d have to re-qualify him through a sevens Olympic qualifying tournament.”

Kefu added that the younger Folau was set to be named in Tonga’s World Cup squad within the next week. The winger, who asked to be released by the Waratahs following his brother’s sacking by Rugby Australia, is ready to feature in next month’s Pacific Nations Cup in matches against Samoa, Japan and Canada.

Kefu said: “He [John] is definitely on our radar and we have already spoken to him. I’ve actually never seen him play but I’ve got a playing history of him. 

“We’re going to look at him and may even take him to the PNC because we have got some holes in our squad, especially out wide in the backs. There’s a good chance he will be part of that squad.

“You look at what he has done. He has played in the NRL for a couple of years and has been on the fringe of Super Rugby for a couple of years. He definitely qualifies because he has got a Tongan passport.

“If he has played in those competitions before he is certainly good enough to have a trial for us. Then we can see whether he is good enough to be part of that Rugby World Cup squad.”

WATCH: Episode six of Don’t Mess with Jim, the weekly RugbyPass series hosted by former Scotland international Hamilton

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Island nation is prepared to offer Israel Folau a Test level return