Mate Ma'a Tonga

Australian squad named to face New Zealand, Tonga

Rabbitoh's revelation Damian Cook and Roosters phenom Latrell Mitchell have both been rewarded for their sparkling NRL campaigns, as have Panthers half Tyrone Peachey and NSW State of Origin stand-out, James Tedesco.

Kangaroos veteran Greg Inglis has been awarded the captaincy after the representative retirement of incumbent skipper Cameron Smith.

Coach Mal Meninga said the 19-man squad signalled the dawn of a "new era" for the test side and was eager to put them to the test against two formidable opponents.

Mate Ma'a Tonga vs Kangaroos Test a step forward for rugby league - Woolf

The two teams will meet for the first time on October 20, in Auckland.

The Australian players agreed for their $AU20,000 match fee to be slashed to less than $AU5000 for the game to help get the game over the line.

Mate Ma'a Tonga coach Kristian Woolf said the match between the tier one and two nations is a step forward for rugby league.

NZ Māori-Tonga league match called off

The game was to be staged a week before Tonga's historic clash against the Kangaroos in Auckland on 20 October.

However, a spokesman for Walco Events told the Rotorua Daily Post the game had been called off because it did not get support from the NRL.

Tonga were arguably the most popular team at last year's World Cup, selling out matches in Hamilton (twice) and Auckland, on their memorable run to the last four.

Tonga ready to compete with Kangaroos, says David Fusitu'a

A match-up between the world champions and the darlings of last year's World Cup has been muted for some time. Australia coach Mal Meninga is a fan of the idea and negotiations between the respective parties are said to be ongoing.

With Jason Taumalolo, Andrew Fifita and the rest of their World Cup squad sticking with Mate Ma'a Tonga, the Kristian Woolf-coached side showed they are here to stay with a dominant victory over Samoa last month.

The Tongans produced a first-half blitz that several experts believed would have given the Kangaroos a run for their money.

Samoa out to make amends and plan for the future

Despite reaching the quarter finals after salvaging a 14-all draw against Scotland in the group stages of the tournament, the winless Samoan side were embroiled with backlash after a string of disappointing performances and talk their talk of players – including Leilua – returning to their NRL clubs in the pre-season overweight.

One of the more experienced leaders in the line-up, Leilua told NRL.com coach Matt Parish identified the fixture as a chance to build depth for the nation.

"They're the future for our team," Leilua said.

Mate Ma'a Tonga moves up league world rankings

Tonga reached the semi-finals, going down to runners up England.

Tonga head coach Kristian Woolf, who oversaw a thrilling victory over New Zealand and a narrow defeat to England, does not want to have to wait until the 2021 World Cup to face the top sides again.

"The Mate Ma'a's move is just reward for a very strong year including a great World Cup campaign," he said.

"It is something we want to continue, with the opportunity to be involved in more international games in the future and the ability to compete against the top three nations," he said.

Woolf returns to work

Then again Woolf was never hanging by the phone.

Woolf arrived back at work with the Blackhawks last week, just days after visiting Tonga with the rest of his Mate Ma’a squad and receiving a hero’s welcome from the Island kingdom’s fanatical supporters, including its royal family.

Tonga’s inspired run to the semi-finals, which included knocking over 2008 world champions New Zealand, was the story of this year’s World Cup, as were Tonga’s unified and passionate supporters.

Vava’u fans breach airport regulations during rugby league stars visit

They ignored warnings from Police who were there to make sure everyone was safe.

Police appeared happy before moving aside to watch.

Some Mate Ma’a Tonga players including Konrad Hurrell and Peni Terepo flew from Tongatapu to Vava’u after they were welcomed to the kingdom on Tuesday with a national celebration which featured public floats, royal ceremony and a block party.

Women in Vava’u surrounded the aircraft’s stairway and carried the MMT stars.

Terepo and Hurrell appeared elated while they were carried by the fans.

Tonga Rugby League President clarifies players missing church leaders’ prayer services

Sika said the team came to Tonga after an invitation from the King to a ceremony at the royal palace.

He said the programme was set to make sure the boys would also have enough time to meet their family and their rugby league supporters who could not go to New Zealand to support the national team.

He said it was important for all sectors in the Tongan community to communicate with his national committee which was working to ensure there were no clashes between functions people wanted the team to attend.

MMT recalls Tongan tradition of courage and respect in times of defeat, says academic

Sione Tu’itahi, a former Tongan journalist, writer and lecturer at Massey University and now
director of the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand said these players were true patriots who gave everything for their purposes.

Tu’itahi said the players showed in their performance against England at the Mt Smart on
Saturday 25 they loved and remembered their homeland.

Tonga lost to England 18-20 in what many have described as history in the making.