Folau, Piutau to bolster Tonga squad for Pacific Nations Cup

Israel Folau will make his return to international rugby with Tonga three years after his Rugby Australia contract was terminated over anti-gay social media posts.

The 33-year-old outside back was named in Tonga's squad on Friday for the Pacific Nations Cup tournament in July and a playoff for next year's World Cup in France. As well as Fiji and Samoa, Australia A will also contest the Pacific Nations Cup for the first time since 2008.

Folau, an evangelical Christian, had his Australia contract torn up in 2019 after he posted on social media that "hell" awaits homosexuals and other groups, having been warned about similar posts previously.

He then sued governing body Rugby Australia for unlawful termination seeking A$14 million ($9.98 million) in damages.

The case was settled out of court, with Rugby Australia and Folau issuing a joint statement and apology in late-2019.

Folau continued his professional rugby career, taking a contract with Japanese side Shining Arcs last year.

The Pacific Nations Cup will be played in Fiji, from July 2-16.

Tonga will then a week later face the winner of the Asia Rugby Championship in a one-match playoff to decide who will join South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and a team from the Europe 2 zone in Pool B at the World Cup.

As well as Folau, former All Blacks Salesi [Charles] Piutau, Augustine Pulu and Malakai Fekitoa have also been included in Toutai Kefu's squad, with the Wallabies great taking full advantage of World Rugby's change of eligibility law.

Players can now represent a second nation, to which they at least share a grandparent link, after a three-year stand-down period from Test rugby.

TONGA SQUAD: Sigfried Fisi'Ihoi, Tau Koloamatangi, David Lolohea, Samieula Moli, Siua Maile, Jay Fonokalafi, Siate Tokolahi, Ben Tameifuna, Sosefo Apikotoa, Samiuela Lousi, Halaleva Fifita, Veikoso Poloniati, Tanginoa Halaifonua, Viliami Taulani, Lotu Inisi, Solomone Funaki, Sione Tu'ipulotu, Sonatane Takulua, Augustine Pulu, Manu Paea, William Havili, James Faiva, Malakai Fekitoa, Afusipa Taumoepeau, Fetuli Paea, Fine Inisi, Solomone Kata, Salesi Piutau, Tima Fainga'anuku, Israel Folau, Anzelo Tuitavuki