Force to confront Israel Folau's Japanese team
SPOTLIGHT: The Western Force are set to come up against a familiar face in November after they locked in two pre-season games against Israel Folau’s Japanese side Urayasu D-Rocks.
The Force will take on D-Rocks at Urayasu Park in Chiba in a two-game series on November 6 and 12.
The matches will form a crucial part of the Force’s preparations for the coming Super Rugby Pacific season under new coach Simon Cron.
Folau’s participation would add an extra element of intrigue to the matches.
The 33-year-old’s contract with the Wallabies was terminated by Rugby Australia in 2019 after his controversial social media post that said “hell awaits” drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators.
Folau, who notched 73 Tests for the Wallabies, has set his sights on playing for Tonga at the 2023 World Cup.
But his Tonga debut on July 2 in the Pacific Nations Cup was a disaster, with Folau suffering a serious hamstring injury in the first half of a 0-36 loss to Fiji.
Folau is still recovering from the injury but is expected to be fit by November.
Force general manager of rugby Matt Hodgson said the trip to Japan would help build match fitness and skill, as well as promote team bonding.
“This is a great opportunity for new players to combine with the current crop and form connections,” Hodgson said.
“By travelling together, you get to know your teammates away from rugby, assisting considerably in forming a coherent playing group.”
The Queensland Reds will take on the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan on November 4, while the Melbourne Rebels will face the Kintetsu Liners.