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Israel Folau will miss the Rugby World Cup

By Ian Cameron
Israel Folau of the World XV looks on during the Killik Cup match between Barbarians and a World XV at Twickenham Stadium on May 28, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Israel Folau will miss the Rugby World Cup after failing to recover from injury in time for the tournament in France.


Head coach Toutai Kefu has named a 32-player squad, with two further players to be added before the tournament.

Tonga have confirmed that the controversial fullback has failed to recover from a knee injury and will miss the tournament alongside Telusa Veainu.

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“Isileli Folau (knee) and Telusa Veainu (hamstring) have suffered recurrences of existing injuries and will be unavailable for the tournament,” the union said in a statement.

Former All Blacks George Moala, Malakai Fekitoa, Vaea Fifita and Charles Piutau are included in the squad, as is former Wallabies lock Adam Coleman.

“This is the squad that will be taking us to the 2023 Rugby World Cup,” said Kefu. “It’s a squad I’m very proud to coach and I know all the players are looking forward to representing their families and all Tongans around the globe with pride”.

“Unfortunately a couple of our brothers, Isileli Folau and Telusa Veainu, won’t be joining us to due to existing injuries. George Moala, with the reduction of his suspension to 5 weeks, will be able to join the squad mid-campaign.”


Folau had switched national allegiance from Australia to Tonga and there was an expectation that the former rugby league star would face a frosty reception during this autumn’s World Cup, had he attended.

The 34-year-old, a Christian fundamentalist, was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 because of a series of anti-gay social media posts, including one telling “homosexuals” that “hell awaits you”.



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Hernan 334 days ago

What a shame! Best full back and biggest balls off the field

Blair 334 days ago

It couldn’t have happened to a better bloke!

Pecos 334 days ago

Tonga still looking good. Still remember the 2011 red wave flooding Auckland. They came close to getting out of the pool too, needed to beat Canada to knock France out, I think? But missed their op.

John 334 days ago

Rugby Australia sacked Israel Folau illegally and unfairly for his mainstream Christian views and paid Folau around 3 million dollars in compensation. Since then Rugby Australia is on a downward spiral. Can't say I feel sorry for them. Good on Tonga for not being scared of the militant LGBTIQ+ mob with the mainstream press behind them (or is it in front of them?).

john 334 days ago

Good riddance. Was only a two trick pony anyway. Could jump and run in a try.
Couldn't kick, couldn't pass. couldn't tackle.

Thomas 334 days ago

Squidge Rugby will be throwing a party, LOL.

Nick 335 days ago

Aside from Folau’s fantastic rugby credentials and yet his idiotic rants and stance upon everything gay, I will still miss his presence at this World Cup!

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