Israel Folau makes try-scoring rugby comeback in Japan

Staff Writers
2 Min Read
Israel Folau.
Israel Folau. Credit: News Images/Sipa USA

Dual-code international Israel Folau has taken just four minutes to put himself on the scoresheet in Japan Rugby League One on his return after a nine-month absence.

The former Wallaby - who scored 37 tries in 73 Tests for Australia, and a then-Super Rugby record 60 tries from 96 appearances for the NSW Waratahs - was quickly back among the points in Miyagi on Saturday as his club, Urayasu D-Rocks, beat NEC Green Rockets Tokatsu 31-28 in the Division Two decider.

It was the 34-year-old’s first appearance since July 14 when he was part of a Tonga team coached by ex-Wallaby backrower Toutai Kefu that beat Australia A 27-21 in a non-cap international in Nuku’alofa.

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Folau’s try gave D-Rocks the perfect start, and while they fell behind by 10 midway through the first half, had recovered to lead 22-18 at halftime.

The steady boot of five-eighth Hikaru Tamura, who kicked 16 points, including the match-winning penalty goal, secured the win for Urayasu.

Folau, who made his name in the NRL with Brisbane and Melbourne and also played AFL with Greater Western Sydney, took Japan Rugby League One by storm when he arrived two seasons ago - scoring 10 tries in 12 matches for the then NTT Shining Arcs.

Injury has since blighted the controversial code-hopper’s career, wrecking his chances of appearing at a second Rugby World Cup, after he suffered a knee injury on his return to the international scene.

Folau’s contract with Rugby Australia was cancelled in 2019 over his widely expressed views on a range of social issues, including homosexuality, citing his religious viewpoint.

Rather than being a launch pad for a new career - having met World Rugby’s ancestry requirements to switch from Australia - Folau’s debut for Tonga has proved his only appearance to date.

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