Israel Folau would be welcomed into the Tonga team provided he cuts out “crazy” social media posts, Andrew Fifita has said.
The dual-code Australia international last year indicated his ambition to play for Tonga, with his parents both hailing from the South Pacific archipelago.
His strong religious views have caused controversy, and Folau recently signed for Catalans Dragons who warned they would not tolerate the 30-year-old making any further incendiary comments.
Folau provoked fury within and beyond the LGBT+ community last April when he wrote on Instagram that “hell awaits” gay people, in a post that has not been deleted.
He was sacked by Rugby Australia and later took the national body to court, before stepping away from rugby union and returning to rugby league, the code in which he began his career.
Cronulla Sharks star Fifita is determined to keep an open mind and says Folau could play a part with coach Kristian Woolf’s squad, if he keeps his views private.
“I don’t agree with some of the terms he’s come out with and said, but football is football and, mate, I’ve done a lot of things in my past and I know all can be forgiven,” said Fifita, quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald.
“He can’t come out with those crazy posts again. I’m all for God as well but in saying that, everyone in life deserves to be happy.
“When we’re talking about gays and lesbians … I got family who are gay and they’ve got the right to be happy.
“If he has a really good year, the international jersey will be waiting for him.”
— Dragons Catalans (@DragonsOfficiel) February 11, 2020
Woolf has previously said he would consider Folau, should he impress with Catalans.
Folau has yet to make his debut for the French side but has been named in the squad to face Castleford Tigers in Super League on Saturday.