In a blow to Tonga’s World Cup aspirations, fullback Israel Folau has been omitted from Toutai Kefu’s 32-man squad for the showpiece in France due a lingering knee injury.
Head coach Kefu unveiled his roster for the tournament on Monday, with plans to finalise the squad with two more players in the coming days.
Tonga Rugby Union issued a statement confirming Folau’s setback: “Isileli Folau [knee] and Telusa Veainu [hamstring] have suffered recurrences of existing injuries and will be unavailable for the tournament.”
The team’s ranks boast some familiar names, including former All Blacks such as George Moala, Malakai Fekitoa, Vaea Fifita, and Charles Piutau, alongside ex-Wallabies lock Adam Coleman.
Kefu expressed his pride in the chosen squad, noting, “It’s a squad I’m very proud to coach and I know all the players are looking forward to representing their families and all Tongans around the globe with pride.”
While Folau’s absence is a setback, Kefu remains optimistic with the inclusion of other talented players, and the hope of Moala’s mid-campaign arrival following a reduced suspension.
Photo: Pita Simpson/Getty Images