Israel Folau’s return to Test rugby lasted less than 30 minutes before he was injured during Tonga’s 36-0 loss to Fiji in the Pacific Nations Cup in Suva.
- Folau sustained a leg injury during the first half of the Test
- The former Wallabies back was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019
- Folau was one of nine Tongan debutants playing Fiji
Folau took the field on the right wing for Tonga in his first Test since 2019.
He had scored 37 tries in 73 Tests for Australia before being sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 for breaching its players’ code of conduct.
Folau played for the Catalan Dragons in the European Super League before switching back to rugby union with the Shining Arcs in Japan’s professional competition this year.
Changes in World Rugby eligibility rules allowed him to return to Test rugby and he did so on Saturday among nine players making their debut for Tonga.
Folau left the field with a leg injury in the 27th minute and was replaced by Tima Fainga’anuku, who made his debut for Tonga on the same day his brother Leicester was due to make his Test debut for New Zealand against Ireland.
Former All Black Charles Piutau also made his debut for Tonga.
That fire power was not enough to hold out Fiji, who was playing a Test at home for the first time in almost three years.
Earlier in Suva, Nigel Ah Wong scored an intercept try two minutes from full-time to give Samoa a 31-26 win over Australia A in the opening match of the tournament.
Samoa led 19-7 at half-time but Australia A rallied to level the score at 26-26 with a try to James Tuttle in 77th minute.
Australia A swept onto attack from the re-start but Ah Wong snatched a pass from Lalakai Foketi out of the air and dashed almost 80 metres to score the winning try, his second of the match.