rugby league

Tonga wants 'grudge match' with Kiwis

After Tonga's 38-22 victory over Toa Samoa in Saturday's Pacific Test in Sydney, Woolf also reiterated his call for a Test this year against Australia.

"The game that we really need to have on a regular basis is us versus New Zealand. It's a grudge match. We've obviously got plenty of blokes who played for New Zealand and play for us now and that adds to the grudge match," Woolf said.

Tonga v Samoa preview

Trailing 20-0 with seven minutes remaining of the semi-final against England, Mate Ma'a charged home with three converted tries and were on the attack again when Andrew Fifita appeared to be stripped of possession by England back-rower Elliott Whitehead before regathering and diving over for what would've been a match-winning try.

With Fifita ruled to have knocked the ball on several Tongan players were left in tears as a dream World Cup campaign came to an end.

The Tongan team culture that wouldn't suit any other sporting team

Spearheaded by known-larrikins Andrew Fifita and Konrad Hurrell, the pair were already launching a plan on how to initiate Rabbitohs debutants Robert Jennings and Junior Tatola into the squad, only hours after greeting them in camp.

As NRL.com spent the day with the Tongan side in the lead-up to their clash with Samoa on Saturday, the pranks were in full swing – capped off by Sio Taukeiaho's late arrival into camp.

The Roosters forward delayed the team photo following the birth of his second child.

Jennings commits to Tonga

The Parramatta Eels centre confirmed he will feature in the Pacific Test against Samoa at Campbelltown on June 23.

Jennings played for both Australia and New South Wales Blues before pledging his allegiance to Tonga ahead of the World Cup last year and tied his colours to the mast on Wednesday.

"My focus now is Tonga," the 30-year-old said.

"I'd love to play Origin but I made the decision I wanted to stay after the World Cup.

Benji still keen on the Kiwis

After establishing himself as arguably the form New Zealander of the NRL during the opening six rounds, the Wests Tigers' No.6 is still dreaming of ending his six-year exile from the national set-up.

On form, he is undoubtedly the leading contender to partner Shaun Johnson in the halves for the mid-year Denver Test against England and has consistently out- pointed the other leading contenders.

NRL star Greg Inglis not ready to talk about racial abuse

Last week, two fans were given indefinite bans from attending matches by the NRL, after directing abuse at South Sydney star at the end of his team's round-two loss to the Panthers.

Inglis said he was now fine with the matter, but still didn't want to talk publicly about the incident, which he had reported immediately to South Sydney management.

"I'll speak about it when I'm ready," Inglis said on Tuesday. "It's just a very touchy subject - I'll speak when I'm ready to speak about it."

Pacific Test confirmed: Players plead allegiance to Tonga

The first two clashes have been announced with Pacific rivals Tonga and Samoa going head-to-head, as well as a match between Papua New Guinea and Lebanon.

Cronulla Sharks prop Andrew Fifita recently pleaded his allegiance to Mate Ma'a Tonga (MMT), turning his back on the State of Origin series as well as any chances to play for Australia's Kangaroos.

MMT coach Kristian Woolf says he fully supports Fifita's decision and the huge sacrifice it comes with.

Tonga hopeful of Kangaroos clash

Tonga's coach Kristian Woolf said there had been talk of a match in October, with Qatar and Hawai'i touted as possible venues in an effort to expand the game globally.

Tonga made waves during the 2017 World Cup when they upset New Zealand, before narrowly losing to England in the semi-final while drawing large crowds everywhere they played.

They missed out on a requested rematch with the Kiwis this year, but a match against the Kangaroos was "more reality than fantasy," Woolf said.

Culture key to Warriors success

On March 10th 1995 a New Zealand rugby league legacy was born. The Warriors make history running through a lit Mount Smart Stadium tunnel for the very first time.

Among those who ran out on that historic day was a 23-year-old Stephen Kearney.

Now 23 years on, the team he now coaches will begin their season on the exact same date in Perth with an objective to get the club back to winning ways.

"Certainly the hard work that the boys have put in during the preseason is about putting it all together for round one." says Stephen Kearney.

Fifita still undecided over representative honours

However, Fifita will have to make a call at some stage given that Tonga play Samoa in a one-off test the same weekend as the second Origin match.

Fifita, who represented Tonga at last year's World Cup, has said he would wait until as late as the week before the first Origin clash before making a decision.

But Cordner said he wouldn't try to sway the front-rower either way, and insisted he would have no questions over Fifita's commitment to the Blues even if he left it to the last minute.