Tonga Rugby League

Tongan team want to move on from chaos

This year has been a period of uncertainty for the Tongans, much of it coming from a long-running dispute between coach Kristian Woolf and the local Tonga National Rugby League.

There has been court action, claim and counter-claim and anger expressed through many in the the rugby league community.

Taumalolo's co-captain, Siosiua Taukeiaho, made reference to the uncertainty after their Australian win saying the players didn't even know if they were going to play this year.

Taumalolo said it was time to move forward.

'Everyone's crying' – Tonga stars react to history-making victory over Kangaroos

As the two sides met in a Test match for just the second time in history, Tonga - playing under the moniker of 'Tonga Invitational XIII' due to an ongoing dispute - stunned the world champions for one of the biggest results in the nation's sporting history.

TVNZ1 programme Tagata Pasifika was invited into the Tongan team's sheds after the match, as some of rugby league's biggest names came to terms with the win.

"Everyone's crying, after the game everyone was crying," prop Andrew Fifita said.

Tonga XIII shock world champion Australians

Cheered on by more than 25,000 singing fans at Auckland's Eden Park, the Tonga Invitational XIII inflicted the Kangaroos' first loss to a Tier 2 side and continued their historic run of wins after beating Great Britain last week.

The match was the last in a blockbuster international triple-header with Fiji thrashing Samoa 44-18 and New Zealand winning a tight encounter 12-8 over the Great Britain Lions in the early games.

But neither of those fixtures met the level of excitement of the Kau To'a v Kangaroos match up.

Tonga aiming to create history by securing first win over Kangaroos

Woolf's side will look to become the first tier-two nation to defeat the Kangaroos when they battle in tomorrow's rugby league triple-header in Auckland.

Samoa face Fiji and New Zealand meet Great Britain in the curtain-raisers at Eden Park before the feature match between the rising powerhouse and world No.1.

Officially sanctioned as a Test by International Rugby League, the Tongan side enter the contest after toppling the Lions in Hamilton last week, while Australia flexed their muscles by routing the Kiwis in Wollongong.

Woolf seeks Tongan community backing

The side is playing under the banner of "Invitational XIII" against Great Britain this weekend and against Australia on 2 November.

The situation arose after a Supreme Court ruled the Tonga National Rugby League was the only authority able to operate the official national representative side, Mate Ma'a Tonga, following a long-running dispute between coach Kristian Woolf and the TNRL.

Despite this ruling, the TNRL remains suspended by the International Rugby League governing body pending their own investigations into the matter.

Tui Lolohea insists he will always play for Tonga after power struggle

The Salford ace has had one question running through his mind over recent months – what the hell is going on?

Tonga’s official board fell out with coaches and players, meaning boss Kristian Woolf was sacked and the top stars that committed to the Pacific island would have boycotted games.

Things were so bad, the International Rugby League board took action and brought in the ‘Tonga Invitational XIII’ to make sure the top talent played this Autumn, bossed by the new St Helens chief.

Tonga name near-full strength side for first Test with Great Britain

Lolohea, who enjoyed a new lease of life following his mid-season move from Leeds, was a key member of the Tongan team that reached the 2017 World Cup semi- finals and flew out to Auckland in June for the Test against New Zealand.

Kristian Woolf, who is delaying his arrival at St Helens after being restored as head coach, is able to field a virtual full-strength side for their first-ever match against the Lions, with Andrew Fifita, Ata Hingano and Michael Jennings available after missing the mid-season defeat by the Kiwis due to injury.

Taukeiaho: Emotions to run high for Tonga's Test 'homecoming'

Tonga became the first second-tier nation to beat a tier-one side when they beat New Zealand 28-22 that day, and ahead of facing Great Britain on Saturday night Taukeiaho said the venue and city of Hamilton remained special to the squad.

"It is going to bring out some emotions for sure," Taukeiaho said.

"A lot of us love being here in Hamilton because of that memory, we have a lot of fans here as well and the atmosphere is awesome.

"It's good to be back in the colours again seeing familiar faces, as well as some new faces coming into the squad."

Tonga coach denies financial wrongdoing accusations as Tongan league saga rumbles on

Woolf was sacked amid accusations from the current TNRL board that he misused team funds in a bank account.

His dismissal prompted the team’s senior players including Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita to threaten to boycott end-of-season games.

“There has been some really poor allegations made suggesting that there is something going on financially,” Woolf told Tagata Pasifika.

“I think to understand why that is a ridiculous comment is you got to understand that before anyone can access any money from an account, it needs board approval in writing.”

Tonga’s Fifita wants to let his play do talking at World Nines

Now the outspoken NRL star has set his sights on letting his football do the talking when the Tongan invitational team battle in the inaugural World Cup nines.

After enduring a rollercoaster season for Cronulla, which included a premature exit from the finals, Fifita can only see smooth times ahead.

"I'm sweet. I'm ready to go. I played (Koori) knockout last weekend, so I know my game fitness is pretty good," Fifita said.

"I missed one game through injury this year. That was caused by a very hairy knock. But other than that, suspensions got the better of me."