Israel Folau will be considered for Tonga selection if he performs well for Catalan Dragons, according to coach Kristian Woolf.
The former Wallabies fullback, who has not played since being sacked by Rugby Australia for making homophobic comments on social media, has signed a one-year contract with the Super League club.
Folau is due to arrive in France next week, and the 30-year-old could make his debut for the Dragons against Wakefield in round two on Sunday week.
Woolf, who also coaches St Helens, says Folau is passionate about his Tongan heritage.
“Israel is a real professional and in any meetings or dealings I have had with him he has been really good,” Woolf told NRL.com.
“If he is playing footy that warrants picking him in the side, he will be considered along with everyone else.
“He wouldn’t get selected because of who is, he would only be selected because he is the best player.”
However, Woolf also admits there will always be a reason to stay loyal to the players who have performed so well in recent years.Latest NRL VideosFolau signs with Catalans00:23Holmes’ transition training from NFL to NRL01:25Folau linked with New York move00:19
Tonga, who beat Australia and Great Britain last year, are scheduled to meet New Zealand and Fiji in the Oceania Cup later this year, with dates and venues yet to be confirmed for the tournament.
Woolf says Tonga are in regular discussions with Samoa over a Test match between the countries, which could potentially see Folau facing off against Toronto Wolfpack’s star signing Sonny Bill Williams.
“I’m not sure what Sonny’s interest is in playing for Samoa but he would have a very good influence on them both internally and the team.”