Former Wallabies star Israel Folau and the current coach of the Australian men's rugby team, Eddie Jones, look set to lock horns in a tantalising prospect for fans. Folau is being earmarked to play in a star-studded backline for a World XV side that will take on the Jones-coached Barbarians at Twickenham next month.
Folau was famously sacked by Rugby Australia (RA) in 2019 for saying that "hell awaits" gay people and others he considers sinners in a post on social media. He had previously been embroiled in a similar row and he went on to cause further offence in 2019 when he suggested that bushfires and drought ravaging Australia were "God's judgement" for the legalisation of same-sex marriage and abortion.
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The 34-year-old took RA to court for unfair dismissal, demanding $14 million in compensation under employment legislation that bans sacking someone because of their religious beliefs. The case was settled out of court with RA reported to have paid Folau $4 million and the player claiming he had been "vindicated".
Folau left Australian rugby as arguably the Wallabies' brightest star, eventually switching back to rugby league to play for French team, the Catalans Dragons. Folau has since returned to rugby, playing in the club game in Japan while switching his national allegiance to Tonga, who he hopes to play for at the Rugby World Cup.
Israel Folau and Eddie Jones return to Twickenham
The former Wallabies fullback looks set to be part of the World XV team who'll be taking on the world-famous Barbarians invitation side that Australia coach Jones has agreed to coach. It will be Jones' first return to Twickenham since parting ways with England after a tumultuous final few months with the men's national side.
Jones could be set for a hostile reception when he does make his return to Twickenham, having agreed to take the reins for Australia for their upcoming World Cup bid. It will also be Folau's return to the ground where he played his last of his 73 Tests for the Wallabies, scoring two tries as they fell to an emphatic 37-18 defeat to England, orchestrated by none other than Jones.
The 34-year-old's inclusion in a world side coached by World Cup-winning New Zealand coach Steve Hansen is not likely to be met with universal appreciation after Folau's acrimonious exit from Rugby Australia. Folau will play in a spectacular World XV back division that will also include Jones' star Wallabies flyer Marika Koroibete, the brilliant Fijian Semi Radradra and his own Tongan teammate, former All Black Charles Piutau.
Koroibete won the John Eales Medal for the second time last month and Jones will get a close look at how a coach of Hansen's standing plans to go about neutralising one of his key weapons. For the May 28 fixture, Jones has been busy putting together a 'Baa-Baas' team featuring Welsh stars Rhys Webb and Taulupe Faletau, Springbok Andre Esterhuizen and some of his former England charges, like star wingers Jonny May and Jack Nowell.
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