Israel Folau’s Test rugby return short-lived in Tonga’s heavy loss to Fiji

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 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.

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