Israel Folau: Controversial full-back a shock inclusion for Twickenham clash

·3-min read
Israel Folau Credit: Alamy
Israel Folau Credit: Alamy

Former Australia and Waratahs full-back Israel Folau will line up in a World XV team that will tackle the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday, May 28.

Folau is the latest addition on the playing front for the fixture in England, which will see Steve Hansen take on Eddie Jones in the coaching department.

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Indeed, Hansen is in charge of the World XV that will also include Marika Koroibete and Semi Radradra while Wallabies boss Jones coaches the Baa-baas.

Sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019

Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 for a “high-level” breach of their code of conduct following a stream of social media posts that were anti-gay.

He has since switched allegiances to Tonga and is expected to feature at the Rugby World Cup in France later this year alongside team-mate Charles Piutau.

Folau, who changed codes back to rugby league for Catalans after the sacking, then returned to rugby union in Japan as he now turns out for Shining Arcs.

He was once viewed as one of the sport’s standout players but at 34 years of age his game-breaking ability has understandably decreased in recent seasons.

However, Folau’s inclusion in the World XV side will no doubt be a drawcard for the Twickenham clash, with Piutau looking forward to the special match.

“These sorts of games are always great occasions to be a part of. It’s about the chance to take to the field with other players you never would get the chance to normally,” he said.

“It’s nice to get to know guys in that aspect. To line up in a match between the World XV and the Barbarians means it should be a cracking game. I’m looking forward to it.

“Hopefully it will be about expressing ourselves. There will be a lot of talent involved by the looks of it. I’ve played for the Barbarians twice.”

Choice for Bristol Bears star Piutau

Bristol Bears star Piutau admitted he was approached by both the World XV and Barbarians but decided the former was the more attractive proposition.

“I had the opportunity to choose one or the other this time but I think it’s quite rare to be able to play for a World XV so it will be nice to experience that,” he added.

“I had the option of either one. I’ve never played for a World XV before so I went with that one.

“This time for my name to be considered and to get an invite for a World XV is definitely special.

“I think it’s one of those things I’ll look back on when my career is over and think it was awesome I got to do that.”

READ MORE: World XV: Italy trio Danilo Fischetti, Simone Ferrari and Lorenzo Cannone set to face Barbarians

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