Tonga Rugby League

Tonga rugby league team spurn Sydney in favour of Hamilton homecoming

It's understood the team were originally planning on holding their training camp in Sydney, before the idea was floated of returning to Hamilton - scene of those epic World Cup wins over Samoa, and a first-ever against New Zealand, 11 months ago.

So after a team arrival in Auckland on Wednesday evening, it was off down State Highway One to set up camp for a few days, before the team will return to Auckland on Monday for the buildup to next Saturday night's sold-out game at Mt Smart Stadium.

'We'll have our hands full' – Tonga star Jason Taumalolo says Kangaroos new looked team still a huge threat

With Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston and Billy Slater retired from international football Taumalolo believes the new looked Australian team will be a tough challenge.

"I think regardless they'll always going to be a strong team," said Taumalolo.

"The team that they have picked for this year’s game is no different.

"They might have lost some experience but with that they have got a lot of youth and a lot of talented players."

Fans turn out in force to greet Mate Ma'a Tonga rugby league team

It was a kiwi welcome for Mate Ma'a Tonga and a clear sign the Tongan tide is back.

Thousands of fans dressed in red packed out the stadium for the first of two public events before the 29-strong Mate Ma'a Tonga squad go head to head for the first time with world champions the Kangaroos at Mt Smart Stadium on 20 October.

Waiting eagerly at the front of the stage with her siblings was 13-year-old Ana Malini.

Inspirational skipper cleared to play for Tonga

Coach Kristian Woolf is breathing a sigh of relief after confirming Manu in his 19-strong squad for their first Test against the world champions.

Just weeks ago, Woolf thought he would be without Manu with media reports claiming he had suffered a season ending knee injury playing for Super League side Hull FC.

Manu leads a strong Tonga squad boasting NRL stars Andrew Fifita, Jason Taumalolo and Tevita Pangai.

"To be able to have Sika Manu in as a leader for this squad is a big plus," said Woolf.

Digicel supports Tonga rugby league team for Polynesia Cup

Tonga rugby league team will meet Samoa in Apia on Saturday, 2 June for the Polynesian Cup.

The Polynesian Cup is part of events to celebrate the Samoa Independence Day on Saturday.

Its core objective of the tournament is to develop and control the game of rugby league through the development of local players so that they are given the exposure and recognition internationally.

A travelling squad made up of 20-men will be representing Tonga at this weekend’s tournament

The team will to travel to Samoa on Thursday. 

 

 

Kata commits to Tonga while Fusitu'a remains undecided

Kata told NRL.com on Tuesday he planned on following the lead of Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita, representing Tonga over his adopted homeland.

"Right now, I want to stay strong for Tonga," he said.

"It's a personal decision, I don't talk about it with the other Tongan boys here at the Warriors, but my family supports me either way and that's the decision I have made."

The powerhouse centre hasn't spoken at length with new Kiwis coach Michael Maguire yet, but regardless won't be changing his mind.

Local board says no fan zone for Tongan supporters this weekend

Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Local Board Chair Lemauga Lydia Sosene says they are not hosting a Fāmili-Zone, but are pouring all their resources into creating a great atmosphere at Mt Smart.

"While [the last Fāmili-Zone] was a great night – it was pulled together at very short notice with a lot of support from volunteers and community leaders and there isn’t the capacity to do that again."

It is understood a Tongan Community Committee is keen for a similar activity for this weekend’s semi-final but on a much larger scale.

Tonga chase upset World Cup win over New Zealand in Hamilton

No tier two nation has ever defeated a tier one team at the competition, but Tongan hooker Sione Katoa believes they have what it takes to succeed.

"We're just worried about ourselves, as we know the Kiwis are going to come out firing," he said.

"It's just a case of treating it like every other match, because if you go in trying to change your game plan that's when you start to make errors.

"For us we've got to keep it simple and focus on what we do best and the points will come."

Tonga Rugby League targets funding boost

Mate Ma'a head coach Kristian Woolf said a lot of behind the scenes work has been going on to generate more money via sponsorship and support from the government.

He said having the World Cup in the Southern Hemisphere is helpful for Pacific nations while there is extra money up for grabs from the government after the Kingdom pulled out of hosting the 2019 Pacific Games.

"It means that we're a little bit close to home and a little bit more seen, I suppose, and in the public eye as well," he said.

Tonga Rugby league coach already in the zone for Rugby League World Cup

Woolf’s rugby league season will be far from finished at the end of this year’s Queensland Cup campaign, with the respected mentor hoping to guide Tonga to through a successful world cup starting October 27.

Woolf has coached the Pacific Island nation since 2015 and has NRL stars such as Sosaia Feki, Konrad Hurrell and Daniel Tupou in the international arena.

Tonga have been drawn in Group B against New Zealand, Samoa and Scotland, arguably the world cup’s toughest pool group.