Jamie Joseph is not getting carried away with Japan's Rugby World Cup campaign just yet, despite an incredible victory over Ireland on Saturday.

The host nation made it two wins from two in Pool A by upsetting a side that had been ranked the best in the world coming into the tournament, winning 19-12 with a superb fightback.

Japan are now in pole position to top the group, but they must first beat Samoa and Scotland before considering their path deep into the competition.

The Brave Blossoms defeated South Africa in their opening game in England four years ago but lost to Scotland and agonisingly crashed out with three victories.

Joseph is keen to avoid a repeat, telling a news conference: "We could be in a situation where we win tonight and lose to Scotland and miss out - that's certainly what happened last time - so we're certainly not getting ahead of ourselves.

"The boys will have a couple of beers tonight, no doubt, and then we've got Samoa ahead of us."

The coach revealed Japan had been focusing on this match for 12 months and felt that gave them an advantage over Ireland, who have been in Six Nations action in that time.

"Obviously the Irish team is a quality rugby side, but we have been preparing for this game for a hell of a lot longer than the Irish have," he said.

"I said to the players that we've been focusing on today for the last year at least and probably, subconsciously, the last three years. They've only been focusing on it since Monday.

"We felt like we had a bit of an advantage in that and we just needed to execute our plan, which the boys did."

But Joseph also praised Japan's mental fortitude in standing up to the late pressure from Ireland as they chased the game.

"The big focus for us this week was to put two in the tackle as we knew how Ireland would come at us," he said.

"They surprised us a bit with their kicking game, the crosskicks to our wingers, and caught us out a couple of times and scored a try. That was something we had to adjust to.

"But all teams go to a certain pattern under pressure so, when we got ahead, Ireland tried to take us on physically and, I think, mentally we were prepared for that.

"It's easy to say you're mentally prepared but you've still got to make those tackles.

"There were some critical turning points within the game where the players just showed some courage really and were able to hold out a really tough Irish attack. It's those moments in big games of rugby that really turn the game, so I'm proud of our boys."

Makazole Mapimpi and Bongi Mbonambi grabbed two tries each as South Africa thrashed Namibia 57-3 at the Rugby World Cup.

The Pool B clash between sides ranked fifth and 23rd in the world was always likely to be a one-sided contest, and South Africa had licence effectively to score as many points as they fancied.

With Namibia unable to cope with the pedigree of the fancied Springboks in Toyota City, it was the perfect occasion for the Springboks to move on from their opening loss to New Zealand.

Schalk Brits had an early try ruled out for dropping the ball as South Africa laid siege to the Namibia try line, but the points would soon flood in.

First, Mbonambi powered over from a driving maul. The second try soon arrived as Francois Louw barged through a paper-thin Namibian defensive line, and losing Adriaan Booysen for a deliberate knock-on hardly helped the minnows' cause.

Going down to 14 men proved immediately costly, Mbonambi the beneficiary as South Africa made a penalty lineout count.

After plundering 19 points in just about as many minutes, South Africa gave three back when Cliven Loubser put Namibia on the board with a confident penalty, but it was momentary respite.

And after their first three tries came in powerful if unspectacular style, the recent Rugby Championship winners began to run the ball with a pressure-free swagger, Mapimpi scorching through for their fourth try.

Brits fed Lukhanyo Am to dot down at the end of the first half, South Africa's fifth try giving them a 31-3 interval lead.

It was all too easy, Warrick Gelant and Mapimpi scampering behind token enemy defensive lines as the predictable points pile-up continued into the second half. For Mapimpi, his second try took him to 10 in 10 outings for the Boks.

South Africa were moving the ball well, and captain Siya Kolisi grabbed the eighth try. Elton Jantjies was way off target with the conversion, having previously missed two in the first half, but the Boks were up to 50 points.

Brits was clattered off the ball by Johannes Coetzee, whose sin-binning was compounded by South Africa going over again, with 38-year-old Brits appropriately the scorer.

Palette cleanser for the Springboks

After the bitter taste of defeat to the All Blacks seven days previously, this was a banker for South Africa and the landslide outcome was never in doubt. Still, getting a win on the board will cheer Rassie Erasmus, his staff and the Springbok players themselves. They remain determined to be in Japan for the long haul.

Who thrilled? Mbonambi

Hooker Mbonambi enjoyed himself in the early stages and his power and opportunism was rewarded with two tries. It was an occasion made for the South Africa pack to exert pressure on Namibia's try line, and there was little resistance encountered.

What's next?

Italy should provide more of a test for South Africa when they meet in Shizuoka on Friday. Pray for Namibia, though, when they tackle - or attempt to tackle - the All Blacks in Tokyo on Sunday, October 6.

Rory Best believes Japan's stunning Rugby World Cup victory over Ireland should not be seen as a massive shock due to the talent of the host nation.

The Brave Blossoms, who upset South Africa in their 2015 World Cup opener, lit up their home tournament on Saturday by beating the world's second-ranked side 19-12 in a classic in Shizuoka.

Ireland captain Best, while acknowledging his side's mistakes, paid tribute to Japan and insisted there had been no complacency on the part of the favourites.

"We knew how tough it was going to be," he said. "Anybody who was utterly shocked hasn't seen how good they are.

"We came in with a game plan and we felt we were really prepared, but give credit to them, they played really well.

"We made a few mistakes and were on the wrong side of the penalty count, but Japan played really well, posed a lot of questions to us and unfortunately we couldn't come up with the right answers."

Coach Joe Schmidt said his side "stopped playing" after moving in front through tries from Garry Ringrose and Rob Kearney, although he was frustrated by the officiating.

"We played well in the first quarter," said the Ireland boss. "We got out to a 12-3 lead and [then] we stopped playing to a degree.

"It was pretty difficult and we probably fell on the wrong side of the penalty count - three or four of them were offsides that we felt were pretty tough. That could have gone either way - particularly with some of theirs.

"It gave them the front foot and they didn't button off. Congratulations to Japan, what a furious, intense effort it was. I guess we knew that was potentially coming

"We're incredibly disappointed we didn't manage to control the end of the game. They're a tremendous side, they did really well, and congratulations to them."

Reece Hodge and Australia have accepted the wing's three-match ban but insisted his dangerous tackle on Peceli Yato was "an obvious accident".

Hodge was cited for his hit on Fiji's Yato in Australia's opening Rugby World Cup win and then handed a three-week ban that will keep him out of the Wallabies' remaining pool fixtures.

Australia opted not to appeal the decision but Hodge posted on Instagram: "There was never any malice in the contact and any suggestions to that effect are simply false."

He was also irked by criticism of himself, coaches and Rugby Australia in relation to the "high tackle decision making framework".

"From my point of view, the high tackle decision-making framework was designed for administrators, and actually has little to no bearing on my decision-making on the field when approaching contact," Hodge said in a statement.

"We do lots of 'homework' as rugby players and are constantly adapting to changes in the game.

"Those that have played rugby would know that we don't think about the numbered elements of a decision-making tree for referees and TMOs in the split second before a tackle.

"The way I read it, it's a tool used to determine the appropriate sanctions after the contact has occurred."

He added: "Numerous articles suggesting I admitted to not knowing the 'new tackle techniques' are an utter fabrication.

"During the judiciary hearing, I was asked of my knowledge of the framework specifically, not of any 'new tackling techniques' or whether I knew tackling high was going to be penalised. 

"With that said, it was an obvious accident and I will pay a heavy price.

"The only sort of disciplinary action I've ever had was a yellow card for a 'deliberate knockdown' so it feels really weird to be on the sidelines, but I will be doing all I can to help the team prepare for Wales and for the rest of the pool stage."

Brian O'Driscoll believes Ireland have a huge amount of work to do if they are to challenge at the Rugby World Cup after a stunning defeat to Japan.

Joe Schmidt's Ireland came into the tournament as the world's top-ranked side and one of the favourites, starting strongly with victory over Scotland in their Pool A opener.

But from a 12-3 lead in their second match against Japan on Saturday, the Irish collapsed, failing to add another point as the inspired hosts claimed an incredible 19-12 triumph.

Ireland great O'Driscoll, appearing in his role as an ITV pundit, was keen to give the Brave Blossoms credit but saw huge issues with his country's display.

"The mood of the whole country has shifted in 80 minutes," he said. "I didn't see that happening.

"It was a tough game, playing against the host nation who had nothing to lose, but huge credit to Japan. They played terrific rugby.

"But Ireland looked very blunt. They looked devoid of ideas, they looked devoid of energy actually. I wondered if the conditions and the humidity took effect because it just wasn't the Ireland we've come to expect over the course of the last couple of years.

"It's very disappointing. It's not the end of the tournament - they can still top the pool - but they have some amount of work on if they're even thinking about getting beyond a quarter-final at this stage."

Paul O'Connell, another Ireland great working for ITV, added: "A big thing for Ireland over the last number of years has been their ruck.

"They've had the best ruck in the world in terms of their ball retention, in terms of their speed, and Japan have absolutely just done a job on them at the breakdown."

Japan produced another stunning Rugby World Cup upset as Ireland were sensationally beaten 19-12 in a classic in Shizuoka.

The Brave Blossoms shocked the world with their victory over South Africa in England four years ago and, playing as hosts this time around, they were at it again on Saturday.

Ireland, who started the tournament as the world's top-ranked side, looked to be cruising when Jack Carty excelled in teeing up tries for Garry Ringrose and Rob Kearney.

But Yu Tamura's boot brought Japan back into contention before the break and a gutsy display in the second period was finally rewarded with Kenki Fukuoka's decisive score.

Joe Schmidt's men predictably came again but could find no way through a disciplined home outfit who are now on course to top Pool A and progress to the quarter-finals.

The final whistle sparked scenes of jubilation as Japan's players and fans celebrated a memorable victory on home soil, secured amid a tremendous atmosphere.

Ireland have never been past the last eight and, while they should still advance to that stage, two-time defending champions New Zealand would be their likely opponents if they finish second in the pool.

After an early Japan flurry, the Irish pressure built and Carty expertly picked out Ringrose with a crossfield kick for the opening try in the right corner.

Tamura landed a penalty in response, having missed an earlier effort, yet Ireland were now rampant and Carty knocked his own kick down for Kearney to lunge just inside the line for try number two.

However, the hosts rallied when many might have expected them to crumble and a pair of Tamura penalties heading into the break reduced the deficit to 12-9.

Ireland still could not shake off their dogged opponents, who earned another penalty for Tamura from range, only for his boot to let them down this time.

The Brave Blossoms were not to be denied when they next came forward, this time driving Ireland back towards their own try line and finally finding Fukuoka in space on the left for a breakthrough try.

Japan stood firm and another Tamura kick put them a converted try in front with just eight minutes to play, a position they again defended superbly for a historic triumph.

Carty thrills briefly

Playing in Johnny Sexton's absence, Carty initially took his chance. He appeared to have identified a route through Japan and his early quick penalty almost got Keith Earls over in the corner. Carty repeated the trick for Ringrose and was rewarded, then played a key role in Kearney's score. But his control of the contest slipped as Japan roared forward.

Brave by name...

Japan made awful early errors against Russia that saw them battling against an upset. This time, playing as the underdogs, the Brave Blossoms were much improved from the first whistle but soon found themselves two tries down. Rather than shirk the challenge, the hosts offered a magnificent response and dictated the play for half an hour as Ireland wilted.

What's next?

Japan face Samoa next and then Scotland but will be confident of beating both based on this performance. Ireland at least have a kind fixture in which to recover, facing minnows Russia.

Julian Montoya's first-half hat-trick helped Argentina beat Tonga 28-12 for their first win of this year's Rugby World Cup on Saturday.

Montoya and the Pumas dominated the opening 25 minutes of the Pool C clash in Higashiosaka on their way to an important victory.

Tonga had no answers to Montoya, whose hat-trick helped inspire Argentina – coming off a narrow loss to France in their opener – to their win as they scored four tries.

The bonus-point victory boosted Mario Ledesma's Pumas, although Tonga were much improved after being dominated in the first half.

After a scrappy start, Argentina took the lead through Montoya, who dived over in the right corner following a nice move from a line-out.

The Pumas dominated territory during what was an otherwise stop-start opening 15 minutes before Montoya scored again thanks to the forward pack.

Tonga were rattled and found themselves 21-0 down after just 20 minutes, a bad turnover around halfway allowing Santiago Carreras to race away and score.

Montoya was unstoppable in the first half, forcing himself over from close range to to earn a hat-trick and Argentina a bonus point.

Tonga finally settled and found a response through Telusa Veainu before half-time.

A couple of huge hits highlighted an even start to the second half before Veainu dived over in the corner to close the deficit to 16 points with 15 minutes to play.

However, Argentina looked to slow the game down late on, ending their worst ever run of defeats at 10.


Marvellous Montoya lifts Pumas

The first half belonged to Montoya and it was what Argentina desperately needed. Tonga were unable to stop the hooker, who scored three tries and set up the Pumas' win. Montoya became the first hooker to score a hat-trick at a Rugby World Cup since 1999.

Argentina left with questions to answer

A bonus-point win was just what the Pumas needed, but they were unconvincing in the final hour. Argentina avoided a fourth straight Rugby World Cup defeat, although improvement defensively from Tonga saw them struggle after their fast start.

What's next?

Argentina continue their campaign with a tough clash against England on October 5, while Tonga meet France a day later.

The Cheetahs opened the new Pro14 season with an impressive win over Glasgow Warriors, while Ulster produced a dominant second-half display to down the Ospreys.

With the competition kicking off for the first time on South African soil, the returning Ruan Pienaar inspired the Cheetahs to a 48-14 triumph over last season's beaten finalists in Bloemfontein.

The former Springbok, back playing in his homeland after seven years overseas, scored the first of seven tries for his side and also kicked 13 points, helping the hosts run out resounding winners.

Rhyno Smith and Joseph Dweba both touched down twice as the Warriors were cut apart, Sias Koen rounding off a length-of-the-field break by the Cheetahs to cap an excellent performance.

In Friday's other fixture in the first round of the 2019-20 campaign, Ulster scored 17 points without reply after the break to run out comfortable 38-14 winners over the Ospreys.

The visitors led 8-0 early on but the first of two tries from Craig Gilroy - as well as Matt Faddes touching down on debut - helped overturn the deficit, with Ulster leading 21-14 at the break.

Gilroy completed his brace in the 50th minute to extend the advantage and the home team were also awarded a penalty try that saw Luke Morgan dismissed for a second yellow card offence.

John Cooney kicked four conversions and a penalty for Ulster, who next up face the Cheetahs.

Uruguay coach Esteban Meneses declared his side "shocked the world" in beating Fiji and his aim is to do the same again against Georgia on Sunday.

Los Teros claimed their first Rugby World Cup win in 16 years as a trio of first-half tries set up a stunning 30-27 victory.

But Uruguay are not done yet and Meneses has identified their second clash with Georgia as another game in which they can pick up a result.

The coach had said they worked for four years towards the Fiji result but insists this second match was also always in their thinking.

"The game against Georgia is part of this shock to the world that we set out to achieve," he told El Observador.

"The Fiji game, which really was a shock and a huge joy, is something that we will use as encouragement and inspiration.

"Against Georgia, we will arrive with the same preparation of these past four years that supports us for these hard 80 minutes."

Despite their strong start, Uruguay would have to produce a far greater upset to reach the knock-out stages, with Australia and Wales also in Pool D.

Meneses is instead focused on beating Georgia to secure a third-placed finish, which would ensure they return to the world stage in four years' time.

"We have 80 minutes left [to qualify]," he added. "It is a final that sends us directly to the World Cup.

"We stand with this level of preparation and conviction for these remaining 80 minutes."

Uruguay have made just two changes from their opening win, but Georgia have taken an alternative approach, switching 12 men following their big defeat to Wales.

Jaba Bregvadze has been brought in to captain Georgia in a game they too will expect to win.


Georgia - Jaba Bregvadze

Bregvadze was sent to the sin bin as a replacement against Wales, but he gets his chance to start here. A popular Sunwolves star, the veteran hooker should have no difficulty adapting to the conditions and has a key role as skipper.

Uruguay - Felipe Berchesi

While three first-half tries put Uruguay in contention against Fiji, it was the boot of Berchesi, supplying 15 points, that really made the difference when it mattered most. He will likely need to deliver again if they are to add a second win.


- Georgia and Uruguay have faced each other on five previous occasions in Test rugby. Uruguay won their first two meetings, but Georgia's Lelos have won the past three.
- Uruguay won their only prior Rugby World Cup clash with Georgia, 24-12 in Sydney in 2003.
- The South American side will be aiming to win two matches in a World Cup campaign for the first time. Before beating Fiji, they had only won against Spain in 1999 and Georgia in 2003.
- Georgia have won each of their past four matches against non-tier one opposition at the World Cup since that defeat to Uruguay 16 years ago.
- Berchesi's 15 points against Fiji was the highest tally scored by a Uruguay player in a World Cup match. He became the first Teros player to post double figures.

A fired-up Michael Cheika insists Reece Hodge's three-game suspension will not "derail" Australia as they prepare for a blockbuster Rugby World Cup clash against Wales.

Winger Hodge was retrospectively punished for a high tackle on Peceli Yato in the Wallabies' opening 39-21 win over Fiji in Pool D after the on-field officials took no action.

At his hearing, Hodge said he had not been trained on the new tackling framework and the Australian media reacted with fury to the ban.

Head coach Cheika did not hold back in his criticism before Sunday's encounter in Tokyo.

"I wanted to say something at the start about some chat around the framework not being spoken to the players," he said.

"It came out in the judgement, the judge put a bit in there. I want to make a couple of points: the framework is for referees, not the players, to decide whether there are red or yellow cards in a game.

"The guy's [Hodge] already nervous enough as it is. When people are asking you questions and you have done nothing wrong you are nervous and may not have answers to all the questions on the tip of your tongue.

"People are making a point about us so we thought we would make one back - a bit of tennis.

"We are not going to let it derail us. We will suck it up and get focused on what is important - the match on Sunday."

Experienced duo Bernard Foley and Will Genia have been drafted in as two of four changes for Australia against a Wales side they have beaten in 13 of their previous 14 Tests.

However, it was Warren Gatland's men celebrating victory the last time the teams met in November 2018 and the New Zealander is well aware of the psychological boost that can give Wales.

"Losing games in the last minute in half a dozen contests can be quite demoralising but we really focused on last autumn's campaign and it was really important to us with two big games against Australia and South Africa," said Gatland, whose side beat Georgia 43-14 in their opening match.

"Australia was definitely one we went in trying to right the wrongs and coming away with a win it was a typical old-fashioned Test match."

Captain Alun Wyn Jones is set to make a record-breaking 130th appearance for an unchanged Wales side in a game where victory could potentially provide a more favourable quarter-final tie.

But Gatland is focused purely on the here and now.

"We have not really looked too far ahead. If you do get out of the group all quarter-finals are going to be pretty tough," he added.

"It is about taking one game at a time and trying to build and create momentum."


Australia – Bernard Foley

Cheika's decision to drop Kurtley Beale from the starting XV certainly raised a few eyebrows and means they lose the full-back's attacking skill from deep. The onus will be on Foley to dictate the Wallabies' tempo from fly-half and, with 70 Tests and 619 points to his name, he has the experience to do so.

Wales – Gareth Davies

The scrum-half was influential against Georgia, creating the first and third tries and playing a key role in the second. To unlock the Aussie defence, Wales will need their number nine at his brilliant best.


- Wales have not won consecutive Tests against the Wallabies since a three-match span from 1969 to 1975. 

- This will be the seventh meeting between Australia and Wales at the World Cup, making it the joint-most played fixture in tournament history, along with New Zealand versus France. 

- Wales won their first World Cup encounter with Australia in 1987 (22-21) however the Wallabies have secured victory in each the five meetings since then at the tournament. 

- Wales have won seven of their last eight pool stage games at the World Cup (L1), their only defeat in that span coming against Australia (15-6) in 2015. 

- George North has scored five tries in 13 Tests against Australia (including for the British and Irish Lions); only two European players have scored as many against the Wallabies (Shane Williams – 6, Serge Blanco – 5).

John Quill has been banned from the United States' three remaining pool matches at the Rugby World Cup following his red card for a high tackle on Owen Farrell.

USA flanker Quill became the first player to be dismissed at this tournament after clattering Farrell in the head in England's 45-7 Pool C win on Thursday.

England coach Eddie Jones later revealed Farrell lost a chunk of his nose in the challenge, adding: "I think someone's found it on the field."

Quill consequently faced a disciplinary hearing on Friday and an independent judicial committee handed him a three-week ban.

World Rugby said in a statement: "Having acknowledged Quill’s good character and conduct at the hearing, the committee reduced the six-week entry point by three weeks, resulting in a sanction of three weeks, which equates to three matches in the context of the Rugby World Cup."

With the States unlikely to progress through the pool stage, the suspension appears to spell the end of Quill's World Cup. He will miss the games against France, Argentina and Tonga, and USA Rugby said he would travel home.

England's Piers Francis was cited on Friday for his hit on Will Hooley just seven seconds into the same match.

Australia's Reece Hodge and Samoa's Rey Lee-Lo were earlier also banned for three matches, while World Rugby this week criticised the standard of officiating in the first round of fixtures.

Piers Francis has been cited by World Rugby for a high tackle in England's 45-7 win over the United States on Thursday.

The centre's hit on Will Hooley just seven seconds into the Rugby World Cup match left the USA full-back with concussion.

Referee Nic Berry opted not to review the incident at the time and England went on to claim a second successive bonus-point triumph in Pool C.

Francis is the fourth player to be cited at the World Cup and will attend a hearing in Tokyo to determine if he will punished.

Australia's Reece Hodge and Samoa's Rey Lee-Lo received three-match bans earlier this week after being cited for high tackles.

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones will make a record-breaking appearance for his country against Australia at the Rugby World Cup in Tokyo.

Sunday's blockbuster Pool D showdown will be Jones' 130th international cap after Wales named an unchanged starting XV to face the Wallabies.

Jones – who earned his first cap in 2006 – equalled the record for most Test appearances for Wales in Monday's 43-14 bonus-point rout of Georgia as the 34-year-old joined Gethin Jenkins on 129 games.

Wales are unchanged for the clash with the Wallabies – Jones to feature in the same pack that eased past Georgia in their tournament opener.

The only change in Wales' match-day squad is on the bench, with Owen Watkin slipping into the 23 jersey in place of veteran full-back Leigh Halfpenny.


Wales: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones, Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi.
Replacements: Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith, Dillon Lewis, Aaron Shingler, Ross Moriarty, Tomos Williams, Rhys Patchell, Owen Watkin.

Experienced Australia pair Bernard Foley and Will Genia have been named in the starting line-up for the Wallabies' Rugby World Cup showdown with Wales.

Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika has made a raft of changes to the side set to face Wales in Sunday's Pool D blockbuster following Reece Hodge's three-game suspension.

Four new starters have come into the XV, with number 10 Foley, half-back Genia, veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dane Haylett-Petty promoted following Australia's opening 39-21 victory against Fiji.

The quartet's inclusion for the Wales meeting comes at the expense of Nic White, Christian Lealiifano and Kurtley Beale in changes to the backline, while the forward back remains unchanged.

Lealiifano has not been included in the match-day squad, with full-back Beale surprisingly dropped to the bench for the Tokyo fixture in a shock selection shake-up.

Australia – runners-up in 2015 – will be looking to make it two wins from two games at the World Cup as James O'Connor prepares to make his 50th Test appearance for the Wallabies.


Australia: Dane Haylett-Petty, Adam Ashley-Cooper, James O'Connor, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Bernard Foley, Will Genia; Scott Sio, Tolu Latu, Allan Alaalatoa, Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold, David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Isi Naisarani.
Replacements: Jordan Uelese, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, Adam Coleman, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Nic White, Matt To'omua, Kurtley Beale.

Israel Folau's hopes of a rugby league return have been dashed after the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) suspended Tonga.

Former Wallabies star Folau – who was sacked by Rugby Australia (RA) for homophobic posts on social media in April – planned to make a rugby league comeback for Tonga in upcoming Tests against Great Britain and Australia.

However, the RLIF board voted to cancel the Tonga National Rugby League's (TNRL) international membership on Thursday, pending a full investigation into issues raised by various parties, including the Rugby Football League and the Australia Rugby League Commission.

The unanimous decision came after the "Tonga Prime Minister advised the RLIF that TNRL had lost the trust and support of its members, clubs and players", with a list of Tonga's highest profile players making themselves unavailable under the current administration.

"The RLIF has received representations and concerns from the Office of the Prime Minister of Tonga, the Tongan Sports Council, the RFL, the ARLC, the RLPA on behalf of leading players and from concerned groups in the Kingdom of Tonga," RLIF chairman Graeme Thompson said in a statement.

"In view of the considerable evidence that the interests of international rugby league were not being best served at this time. The RLIF Board voted unanimously that the TNRL’s membership be suspended with immediate effect while these matters are properly investigated. The RLIF, at the request of the Tongan government will work with the Tongan Sports Council to ensure that the forthcoming international calendar is not undermined.

"The RLIF stresses that the suspension of TNRL is not an expulsion and is intended to provide a period of stability, while the matters raised by the various stakeholders can be properly and fully investigated. We now call on all parties to cooperate fully with the process to ensure a swift resolution."

A former Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos star in the NRL, Folau – who last played rugby league in 2010 before switching to rugby union in 2013 following a spell in Australian rules football – in July opened court proceedings against his former employer after his contract was terminated for expressing views which breached the team's code of conduct on his official channels.

Folau and the Tonga National Rugby League announced his selection in the squad for the upcoming games on October 26 and November 2, however, the RLIF on Monday denied the 30-year-old had been approved to represent the 2017 Rugby League World Cup semi-finalists.

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