Previous All the black people and Wallabies stars Israel Folau, Carlos Piutau Y Malakai Fekitoa lead the newly appointed tonga team to compete in July’s Pacific Cup of Nations and World Cup qualification.
All three players were included in Toutai Kefu’s 31-man ‘Ikale Tahi squad to face Fiji, Samoa and Australia A in the Pacific Nations Cup, which precedes a World Cup playoff against Hong Kong, South Korea, or Malaysia.
The inclusion of Folau, Piutau and Fekitoa marks the return to international rugby for all three players under new World Rugby eligibility laws introduced on 1 January.
Those laws allow trial cap players to represent a second country for which they are qualified by birthright after a three-year retirement from international rugby.
Folau, Piutau and Fekitoa qualify for Tonga under those regulations as all three players have been absent from Test rugby for at least four years.
After playing the last of his 73 tests for the Wallabies in November 2018, Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia the following year after he posted a post on Instagram saying that hell awaited “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers” and others. .
Since then, the 33-year-old has flitted between rugby and rugby league, but has found a home for himself at Shining Arcs Tokyo-Bay Urayasu in Japan Rugby League One this year, scoring 10 tries in 12 games.
Folau is expected to start in a stellar ‘Ikale Tahi backline alongside Piutau and Fekitoa, who last played for the All Blacks in 2015 and 2017 respectively.
The Piutau and Fekitoa players have shone for their respective clubs since they left New Zealand for the riches of Europe, and will give Tonga plenty of star power in a team that also features former All Blacks two-Test midfielder Augustine Pulu.
Pulu last played for the All Blacks in 2014 and joins Folau, Piutau and Fekitoa as four of the 13 players set to make their ‘Ikale Tahi debut.
All but one of the other named uncapped players on the Tongan side are from Moana Pasifika, the new super rugby Pacific franchise that has provided Kefu with a total of 13 players in its last squad.
the uncovered moana pasifika the players on the Tonga team are supports Tau Koloamatangi and Joe ‘Apikotoa, lockdown Veikoso Polandtiloose forward Lotus Inisirunner Manu Paeafirst five William Haviliand to the Tima Fainga’anuku and Anzelo Tuitavuki.
Koloamatangi, a one-Test Hong Kong international, and Inisi were part of the Tonga squad set to face the All Blacks, Samoa and the Cook Islands last July but never took the field.
toulon corridor sonatane takuluaBordeaux strut ben tameifunaHighlanders midfielder Fetuli Peascarlet lock sam louisloose harlequins forward Viliami Taulani Y Pau shore up Siegfried Fisiihoi are other notable inclusions in the Tongan setup.
Other former internationals, such as the former All Blacks midfielder Jorge Moalathey are also now eligible for the Tonga squad but have not been included in this squad, while more are expected to become available in the coming months.
‘Ikale Tahi will then play their World Cup tie against the winner of next month’s Asian rugby championship in Australia on July 23.
The winner of that playoff match will join South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and Romania in Group B at next year’s World Cup in France.
Tonga Pacific Nations Cup and World Cup qualifying team
loose accessories: Siegfried Fisiihoi, Tau Kolomatangi, David Lolohea
prostitutes: sam mill, Siua MaileJay Fonokalafi
Stingy props: Siate Tokolahi, Ben Tameifuna, Joe ‘Apikotoa
locks: Sam Lousi, Cam fifitaVeikoso Polandti
Means of defense: sonatane Takulua, Agustin PuluManu Paea
Top five: William Havili James Faiva
Midfielders: malakaifekitoa, Afusipa TaumoepeauFetuli Paea, Fina Inisi
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