Israel Folau: RLIF Denies👎 Approving Player's League Return with Tonga

  |   Rugby

Rugby league's international governing body has denied giving clearance for Israel Folau to return to the sport.

Folau was sacked by Australian rugby union's ruling body after writing on social media "hell awaits" gay people.

The Tonga National Rugby League said Folau had been cleared to play for the country at next month's Oceania Cup.

But the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) said that was incorrect as "the RLIF has not been formally asked to consider the matter".

Tonga will face a touring Great Britain side in Hamilton, New Zealand, on 26 October, before coming up against Australia in Auckland on 2 November.

"I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to represent God, my family, my heritage and the people of Tonga," Folau, an evangelical Christian, said when the initial announcement was made.

Folau, who has Tongan heritage, was one of Australia's highest-paid athletes, winning 73 caps for the national rugby union side. He also represented his country at rugby league and played in the domestic NRL competition, and was a professional Australian rules footballer before switching codes to rugby union.

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