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RLIF denies TNRL statement that Israel Folau has been approved to play

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 24/09/2019

The deputy chairman of the Rugby League International federation Peter Beattie had denied a statement made by Tonga National Rugby league – that the federation has approved Israel Folau to represent Tonga in International Matches.

NRL.com quoted Peter saying, that Rugby League International Federation has made no decision in relation to any registration request for Israel Folau, and the statement is incorrect.

Beattie also highlighted that he as a current member and deputy chair of the board, assured that the issue has never been discussed or mentioned around the board table.

Peter was responding to a statement released by Tonga National Rugby League where George Koloamatangi the chairman of the board announced both Israel and John Folau will play for Mate Ma’a Tonga in the Oceania Cup to be played in late October, early November.

The same release also stated that both brothers have registered to play league through the NRL.

The statement also quoted Folau saying that he was excited to return to rugby league to represent God his family and his heritage. Folau was also quoted saying that he was thankful that the federation accepted his availability to play.

Contacts has been made since this morning to the board for a comment on the issue but to no avail.

Meanwhile Radio Tonga News understands that Folau’s contract was terminated in May due to a homophobic social media post in April and that led to NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and ARLC chairman Peter Beattie making it clear that Israel was not welcome to return to the code.

However The announcement of Folau’s return comes amid a bitter dispute with Mate Ma’a Tonga players, led by Andrew Fifita and Jason Taumalolo, who are demanding the resignations of TNRL chairman George Koloamatangi and secretary William Edwards or they will boycott upcoming international matches.

But Koloamatangi told the News before that the choice to represent Tonga rests with the players, whether they want to represent Tonga or not because other players have raised their hands to wear the red jersey.

© Radio and Television Tonga News