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Folau injured in nightmare Test return as Fiji thrash Tonga 36-0

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2nd July, 2022
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Israel Folau’s return to Test rugby was one to forget, thrashed 36-0 on debut for Tonga against Fiji.

The former Wallabies winger wore the No.14 in his first international rugby match since being sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019.

But the 33-year-old got just one touch of the ball on Saturday at the Pacific Nations Cup in Suva, before limping off with his team already 19-0 down in front of a crowd of just under 15,000 at Fiji’s National Stadium.

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The dual-code international, who was part of the Wallabies team that lost the 2015 World Cup final to New Zealand, was booted out by RA for social media posts considered homophobic.

Recent changes in World Rugby’s eligibility laws allowing players to make an international switch after 36 months of inactivity meant Folau, who played the last of his 73 Tests for Australia in November 2018, was eligible again.

Folau’s parents are from Tonga.

Also benefiting from the rule change were former All Black backs Malakai Fekitoa and Charles Piutau, but they were served only scraps by the Tonga pack.

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Fiji, helped by combinations forged in Super Rugby Pacific with Fijian Drua, dominated the setpiece and breakdown as they built a 22-0 halftime lead.

Israel Folau.

Israel Folau represented Tonga for the first time against Fiji. (Photo by Pita Simpson/Getty Images)

Lock Tevita Ratuva, winger Jiuta Wainiqolo and debutant centre Kalaveti Ravouvou scored tries before the break, the latter after a trademark Fiji move featuring pace, power and a string of offloads.

Fullback Seta Tuicuvu crossed in the 56th minute after a break from skipper Waisea Nayacalevu before winger Vinaya Habosi further enhanced his burgeoning reputation by scoring his team’s fifth try on his Test debut.

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In the first game of the day’s double-header, Nigel Ah Wong’s last-minute try secured Samoa a 31-26 win over Australia ‘A’. 

Debutant Ah Wong intercepted Lalakai Foketi’s pass on the edge of the Australian 22-metre before crossing unopposed to score his second try of the match and earn the Samoans the victory.

Samoa led 19-7 at halftime but three second-half tries, including James Tuttle’s in the 76th minute, looked to have secured Australia ‘A’ a draw before Ah Wong’s intervention.

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