Sacked rugby union star Israel Folau is returning to rugby league and will play for Tonga at next month’s Oceania Cup.

Folau had his contract terminated by Rugby Australia after writing on social media that “hell awaits” gay people.

The Tonga National Rugby League said Folau had been cleared to play by the Rugby League International Federation.

“I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to represent God, my family, my heritage and the people of Tonga,” said Folau, a devout Christian.

The 30-year-old, who has Tongan heritage, will face a touring Great Britain side in Hamilton, New Zealand, on 26 October, before coming up against Australia in Auckland on 2 November.

Folau was one of Australia’s highest-paid athletes, winning 73 caps for the national side. He represented his country at rugby league and Australian rules football before switching codes to rugby union.

He was sacked by the Wallabies and club side New South Wales Waratahs in May following his post. Australian rugby officials said Folau breached a players’ code of conduct.

However, Folau says his contract was unlawfully ended because of his Christian beliefs and is suing the organisation.

The full-back will be joined by his 24-year-old brother, John, in representing Tonga. John Folau has also played both rugby codes professionally.

“Both brothers have registered to play league through the TNRL and are eligible to play in international rugby league fixtures,” the Tonga National Rugby League said.