Tonga coach Kristian Woolf has explained his reasoning behind passing up the chance to select controversial star Israel Folau for his side's upcoming international window.
After Folau made himself available for Tonga's upcoming Tests against the Kangaroos and Great Britain, the sacked Wallabies star's return was blocked as part of the resolution between the Tongan National Rugby League and the current group of players.
Instead Tonga will now compete in the upcoming Rugby League Nines World Cup as an "invitational" side, rather than under their "Mate Ma'a Tonga" name.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald though, coach Kristian Woolf explained why he chose not to give Folau a chance at a rugby league return, and that it had nothing to do with his high profile sacking from Rugby Australia saying: "Izzy [Folau] is a tremendous athlete and in all my dealings with him he's always been really respectful."
"I've got no reason to think he wouldn't fit into our environment really well.
"But I can only pick a team on what I see right now, and right now in Izzy's case, he hasn't played rugby league in nine years nor any professional sport for six months. For that I couldn't consider him."
Woolf also added that a return for Folau, no matter how sensational, wouldn't have been fair on the playing group that have seen Tonga rise to become one of international rugby league's most exciting sides.
"I also wouldn't be doing the right thing or respecting blokes like Michael Jennings, Kotoni Staggs, Konrad Hurrell, even David Fusitu'a and Daniel Tupou who have all been playing and done a job for us."
Folau hasn't played rugby league since the end of the 2010 season, switching to both AFL and rugby union in that time.