Fifita was prepared to ignore that fact, and only hoped the 30-year-old could refrain from future homophobic ”crazy” social media posts that cost him his rugby career.
“We had a group chat at the time and we said, ‘If he’s in, let him play in the Nines’,” Fifita said. “We had a lot of young boys who hadn’t even experienced under-20s. We had a forward pack full of experience but a backline full of young pups, and we could have done with his experience. He was going to get sprayed no matter what, but for a good stepping stone, it was the Nines.
“I don’t agree with some of the terms he’s come out with and said, but football is football and, mate, I’ve done a lot of things in my past and I know all can be forgiven.
“For myself, it’s been adversity, adversity, adversity, then next thing you know, one year on, I’ve come back and captained my club [for one game]. There’s always room for forgiveness.
“He can’t come out with those crazy posts again. I’m all for God as well but in saying that, everyone in life deserves to be happy.
“When we’re talking about gays and lesbians, I got one who’s close to me in my sisters, I got family who are also gay and they’ve got the right to be happy. If he has a really good year, the international jersey will be waiting for him.”
The NRL were quick to block any move for Folau to return to the NRL while his time out of the game made it easy for Tongan coach Kristian Woolf to pass on the polarising star. With Woolf now coaching St Helens in the Super League, Fifita said the coach would get a close-up look of the potential outside back in the countdown to next year’s World Cup where Tonga are more than a live chance of being crowned global champions.
Meanwhile, Fifita said he had encouraged Cronulla teammate Josh Dugan to shoot down suggestions he had played his last game for the Sharks because of his dodgy knee.
Fifita said Dugan had moved well at training Thursday and backed him to return from his mystery injury.
“There’s no way he’s played his last game,” Fifita said. “I saw him run today and he looked really good. He’ll be back. I can tell when he’s down, I’m his closest mate in the team and he’s always been my roomie.
“It’s a weird one because he trained all the way up to Christmas, he came back and then his injury sparked up. Knowing Duges, he loves this adversity and he’ll thrive off it.”
Fifita encouraged Dugan to speak up given the intense media spotlight about his future, and said he had to do the same last month when there was a report linking him to the Gold Coast.
“They said I was going to the Gold Coast, but there was no way I was going there – I hate planes, and to be on one every second week isn’t my go,” Fifita said.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.