Manase Fainu

Kiwis lose another player to Tonga with Manly's Manase Fainu spurning New Zealand approach

The 20-year-old - who made his NRL debut in 20187 - spurned an approach from Kiwis coach Michael Maguire and confirmed his allegiance to Tonga, NRL.com reported.

Fainu follows a pathway created by four players - Jason Taumalolo, David Fusitu'a, Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Manu Ma'u - who defected from the Kiwis for Tonga on the eve of the 2017 Rugby World Cup tournament.

Manly prop Addin Fonua-Blake, who played for the Kiwis at the World Cup, switched to Tonga in 2018.

Fonua-Blake helped convince Sydney-born Fainu, who has Māori and Tongan heritage, to commit to Tonga.

Fainu facing international eligibility decision

Born in Sydney, Fainu's rapid rise through the NRL ranks has landed him at the forefront of discussions for both Tonga and the Kiwis.

Another spanner was thrown into the works when the 20-year-old met with NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler and declared an interest in playing State of Origin for the Blues.

Fainu spent time with the Tongan squad ahead of the Pacific Test in June last season after representing the Junior Kiwis in 2017 on account of his mother's heritage.

He was selected for a Junior Kiwis' squad in 2018 but did not play.