RLWC darlings set to receive heroes welcome upon return to Tonga

Their World Cup dream might be over but the Tongan team are set to receive a heroes welcome when they return to the Pacific Island nation on Tuesday.


Tonga's stunning run came to an end yesterday with their 20-18 semi-final defeat to England at Mt Smart Stadium, in front of a capacity crowd of 30,003 mostly Tongan supporters.

Despite their disappointment in falling one game short of next Saturday's tournament final in Brisbane, the entire 24-man squad and coaching staff will fly to Tonga to spend time with family and friends and pay tribute to their legion of fanatical supporters.

Star Tongan forward Jason Taumalolo is undecided about whether he’ll stick with the Pacific island team.

Front-rower and former Kiwis international Sio Siua Taukeiaho was looking forward to enjoying a couple of days of celebrations with teammates in Auckland before making the trip to their homeland.

"The whole squad is going to head to Tonga to see all of the family and all of our supporters out there as well," said Taukeiaho.

"One of the big reasons we played was to represent our little nation so it will be good for us to go back to Tonga and see all of the fans and party up with them.

"We've got a couple of days together. So during this time we want to make the most of our time together.

"We'll have a few beers before we go to Tonga and then everyone will depart to their own clubs after that."

The Kristian Woolf-coached side generated tremendous support throughout a six-week campaign that began with a pre-tournament promotional visit to Tonga that saw them mobbed by fans wherever they went.

After beating Scotland in their first pool match in Cairns last month, the side flew in to Auckland Airport to wild scenes with around 3500 fans cheering their arrival.



Photo by: rlwc2017.com