SPORTS

Folau’s Faith Keeps Him Going

Israel Folau’s return to international rugby has been a long time coming.
01 Jul 2022 12:18
Folau’s Faith Keeps Him Going
Former Wallabies’ and Ikale Tahi winger Israel Folau shares his testimony at the Api Tonga church in Suva on June 29, 2022. Photo: Sereana Salalo

Israel Folau’s return to international rugby has been a long time coming.

The former Wallabies and now Tonga utility back is ready to take on the Flying Fijians in tomorrow’s Pacific Nation’s Cup clash at the HFC Bank Stadium.

Folau shared his journey of being a Christian at the Api Tonga church on Wednesday, highlighting the challenges and how his faith has kept him going.

Speaking to an audience of about 60 people, the 33-year-old Australian-born Tongan indicated he had always wanted to play for Tonga.

He also shared how he left home as a 16 year-old and achieved most of his goals by the time he was 18.

He also shared how he thought his career would end after being sacked by Rugby Australia.

The three-coded player also talked about his switch from rugby league to AFL and then to rugby union.

On his international debut, Folau became the youngest player to represent Australia in rugby league when he was 18.

And despite being sacked by Rugby Australia and out of the Super Rugby the past three years, Folau is still the all-time top try scorer in Super Rugby with 60 tries.

“For me personally, faith has always been part of my life that was instilled in me at a very young age,” he said.

“Over the years, it has been a journey and growth particularly the last three years.”

He shared on one of his favourite Bible verses from Proverbs 3:5-6.

“Always trust in God,” he shared.

“I was playing for the Wallabies three years ago and got sacked for the famous social media post I posted up at the time.

“I have trusted in the Lord. That is the message that is close to my heart.

“At the time I did not have a contract, and I had to retire, I must say I was not ready to finish up but if it was His plans for me then it was best for me.

“I’m thankful that I was given the opportunity to play for the Ikale Kahi team, for me I have always wanted to represent Tonga.

“I never thought I would when Tonga was playing so I would like to thank the Lord for these opportunities.

“There are certain experiences that make your faith become a lot stronger.

“You will start to realise that your identity is not in what you do, or your occupation or in your job, it is found in who you are in Christ.”

He travelled the globe to rebuild his career, playing for French Super League club Catalans Dragons and the third-tier rugby league side Southport Tigers, before finally securing a rugby contract in Japan with Tokyo club Shining Arcs where he lives and plays with wife Maria Tutaia and their two young children.

Despite a difficult campaign for the Shining Arcs, Folau starred for the side, scoring 10 tries in 12 matches.

Folau still holds the NRL record of the most tries in a debut season (Slater scored 19 in 2003) and won the 2007 Dally M Rookie of the Year Award .

In 2019, he became the record holder for most tries scored in Super Rugby history.

With the skies clearing Folau is in the Tonga line-up to take on hosts the Vodafone Flying Fijians.

He is on the wing; Fijian speedster Jiuta Wainiqolo is on the opposite side.

The match kicks off at 3:30pm.

Feedback: sereana.salalo@fijisun.com.fj



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