Mate Ma'a Tonga

Tonga Rugby League in chaos over money and power play allegations in Mate Ma'a Tonga

A war of words broke out this week between Mate Ma'a Tonga players and their board following the sacking of coach Kristian Woolf.

The events have sparked outrage in the Tongan community and many of the team's players threatened to boycott the World Cup 9s and end of season tests if Mr Woolf wasn't reinstated. Many of their fans are backing their calls for the Chairman and secretary of the board to step down.

Chairman George Koloamatangi has hit back saying the players are misinformed about the situation and Mr Woolf had to go.

Frank Endacott appointed Mate Ma'a Tonga coach

The announcement comes after the sudden and bitter sacking of Kristian Woolf, who had been at the helm for the past five years.

Endacott only agreed to come on board yesterday and admitted it has all happened very quickly.

"Obviously there has been politics and problems within the camp but they've been resolved or in the process of being resolved," he said.

"I was asked if I'd be available and I said yes I would - I think it's an exciting prospect to be honest."

Tonga in need of sponsorship to continue playing in Oceania League Cup

Last weekend Mate Ma'a Tonga fans packed out Mt Smart Stadium once again but the team are now left in need of sponsorship to continue playing at the Oceania League Cup.

Melino Maka, says Tonga's NRL currently only have enough funding to pay for half of the two-week preparation period where the players will be training together in New Zealand before in the lead up to their next game in October.

Mr Maka has been working to coordinate permanent sponsorship for the team which he says is desperately needed.

Tonga look to the future after Kiwis defeat

The Kingdom were beaten 36-14 in their Oceania Cup rugby league test in Auckland, as the Kiwis made them pay for any defensive lapses.

Head coach Kristian Woolf said they played well for large periods of the match but were punished for defensive flaws.

"We had plenty of opportunities there at different times and just couldn't quite crack their line," he said.

Thousands flock to Mt Smart stadium

The Kiwi's coach has compared the clash to Australia's 'State of Origin' with the now infamous passion of Tonga's supporters expected to drown out any potential 'home' advantage.

The team's hugely successful Rugby League World Cup campaign in 2017 exposed many to the Pacific nation's pride for their team and country. Supporters dominated stadiums and red and white flags coloured neighbourhoods.

Over the past few weeks cars adorned with Tongan flags have reappeared on the Auckland's streets.

Mt Smart Tonga: A home game for the Kiwis?

For the New Zealand men's and women's rugby league teams, Saturday's matches fit firmly into that category.

As they did in selling out Mt Smart Stadium for last year's test against Australia, Tongan fans will be out in force to support their side.

Kiwis playmaker Shaun Johnson admitted silencing the song, and lowering the thousands of red flags, would take some doing.

"We'll do our best to try to take the crowd out of the game. Whether we can do that or not, because they're so passionate, that's yet to be seen.

South Auckland company shout 200 workers to back Tonga League team

Many members of the Tongan community also say the hype is not as intense this year compared to previous years and there are even fewer decorated houses.

But in South Auckland, for the third year in a row, a pipe manufacturing company is shouting a couple of hundred workers to back Mate Ma'a Tonga this weekend.

At Hynds Pipe system in East Tamaki, workers are gearing up for the game and they're known to take up about 6 rows in the South Stand at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland.

Kotoni Staggs to make Mate Ma’a Tonga debut, set to represent his father he has never met

 

One of Brisbane Broncos' most promising young star centres, Kotoni Staggs, is set to make his debut for Mate Ma'a Tonga this weekend, representing his father who he has never met.

The 20-year-old has defied statistics growing up in a drug epidemic town, Wellington, in western Sydney, and has become one of the brightest young talents in the NRL.

"I love my culture and that's why I'm here," Staggs said, adding that he wants to "learn a bit more about my dad's side".

He has never met his Tongan father, who resides in the US.

Officials hoping for late boost as tickets still available for Kiwis-Tonga rematch

New Zealand Rugby League is expecting a crowd above 20,000 for Saturday's test between the Kiwis and Tonga, which is still way up on the 12,763 fans that turned up to watch New Zealand stun Australia at the Auckland venue last October. 

However, tickets for this weekend's clash - the first between the two nations since Tonga's historic upset at the 2017 World Cup - have not sold as fast as expected.

It's a change from Tonga's previous two games at Mt Smart, when a 'sea of red' flooded the stands.

Tupouniua goes from grandstand to thick of the action

On Saturday the Roosters' rookie will join Mate Ma'a Tonga on centre stage, making his international debut against his native New Zealand and capping a whirlwind rise in 2019.

Tupouniua will come off the bench for Kristian Woolfe's side against the Kiwis, who he represented at under 20s level as an Auckland-born and raised product before shifting to Bondi at age 17.

His parents' full-blooded Tongan heritage sees Tupouniua bolster one of rugby league's most formidable forward packs after just eight first grade games.