An injury cloud is hovering over Tongan star fullback Israel (Isileli) Folau as the Ikale Tahi head into their second Pacific Nations Cup match against Samoa this weekend.
Folau suffered a hamstring injury during the PNC opener against the Flying Fijians. It was a disastrous debut for the former Wallaby fullback, who limped off 27 minutes into the game.
It can be considered the worst debut in his code-hopping career.
Folau was starved of possession for much of the first half but when he finally got the ball, he injured himself.
“Injury is part of the sport, it happens in rugby, we just (have) to deal with it,” Folau said.
Tonga head coach Toutai Kefu had said earlier that the only pressure for Folau would be what he puts on himself.
“He is one of the boys, he is enjoying just being one of the boys, he is a wonderful person and the boys treat him no different,” Kefu said.
“Folau is a really good player, a quality player” these were the sentiments shared by Kefu.
Tonga will be digging deep this week considering their dismal performance against Fiji.
Tonga was held scoreless by Fiji and coach Kefu will be changing things around. The Tongans had the star power in the big names that had returned under the new eligibility laws but they could not combine well enough for team performance.
Kefu and his coaching staff must find their winning combination quickly. They will be needing it for the World Cup qualifiers Tonga is to play after the PNC.
Tonga will face off with Manu Samoa this Saturday at Churchill Park, Lautoka.
It will be an uphill climb for the Tongans against a morally boosted Samoan outfit who will be coming into the game beaming with confidence after defeating Australia A 31-26.
The big question now is whether Folau will get back into shape before the PNC ends and if will he play any further part in Tonga’s World Cup campaign. Folau is 33 years old and this could be his last World Cup.