Tonga Rugby League

Hopoate: Player strike threat is real if Tongan board rejects demands

The Mate Ma'a Tonga fullback reaffirmed the position of players ahead of the World Nines that they would not be backing down on their demands for an overhaul of the Pacific nation's rugby league bureaucracy.

Hopoate said the league community must not interpret relative silence on the issue over the past week as any sign the problems have been solved.

"We have been keeping in contact and don't want to wreck the preparations of those playing finals footy," Hopoate told NRL.com.

Tonga Rugby League says it had no choice but to sack Woolf

TNRL Secretary and former international William Edwards said the board was moving forward with preparations for Tonga's October tests against Great Britain and Australia without him.

Edwards said Woolf was set to be offered a contract, before a sudden and public spat which led to his dismissal.

The prominent lawyer said the problems became to be apparent when a group of players wrote a letter of concern to the International Federation, the NRL, the government and other stakeholders in August.

Fifita joins Tonga players threatening boycott

Tonga's emergence as an international powerhouse may be short-lived as players consider boycotting the upcoming World Cup 9s and Tests against Great Britain and Australia over a dispute that has cast doubts over the future of coach Kristian Woolf.

Former Gold Coast coach Garth Brennan is understood to have already been appointed to coach Mate Ma'a Tonga at the World Cup 9s and there are suggestions he could replace Woolf for the end-of-season Tests if the dispute isn't resolved quickly.

Kotoni Staggs keen for more Tonga caps

The 20 year old started at centre in last weekend's 34-14 Oceania Cup rugby league defeat by New Zealand in Auckland and says it's an occasion he will cherish for the rest of his life.

Staggs is of Indigenous Australian and Tongan descent but has yet to meet his Tongan father, who lives in the United States.

He says getting to know a bit more about his Tongan background was a humbling experience.

Andrew Fifita calls on top silk to keep Tongan Test dream alive

Fifita is expected to fly to New Zealand on Sunday night and join the Tongan camp ahead of Saturday's blockbuster against the Kiwis. He will appear at the NRL judiciary via video link where he runs the risk of being suspended three matches for a dangerous contact charge.

Fifita landed in hot water for his crusher tackle on Canberra's Ryan Sutton, but reached out to top silk Nick Ghabar to argue his case.

The Sharks superstar will plead guilty to the charge, but seek a downgrade from a grade two to a grade one, which would mean escaping a ban.

Kiwis lose another player to Tonga with Manly's Manase Fainu spurning New Zealand approach

The 20-year-old - who made his NRL debut in 20187 - spurned an approach from Kiwis coach Michael Maguire and confirmed his allegiance to Tonga, NRL.com reported.

Fainu follows a pathway created by four players - Jason Taumalolo, David Fusitu'a, Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Manu Ma'u - who defected from the Kiwis for Tonga on the eve of the 2017 Rugby World Cup tournament.

Manly prop Addin Fonua-Blake, who played for the Kiwis at the World Cup, switched to Tonga in 2018.

Fonua-Blake helped convince Sydney-born Fainu, who has Māori and Tongan heritage, to commit to Tonga.

The night Tonga roared to life

As Tonga closed in on a drought-breaking win over Pacific Island rivals Samoa in the first Pacific Test in Penrith in April 2013, the exuberant red army of Tongan supporters could no longer be contained.

A few made their way onto the field as Samisoni Langi lined up the conversion of his own try six minutes from full-time, one getting so far as to be able to give Langi a congratulatory pat on the back before departing in his best 'Hayne Plane' impression.

Kieran Foran eyes Kiwis return for Tonga test

Foran hasn't pulled on the black jumper since the last Anzac Day test in 2017, having battled injury for the second half of last year.

The 28-year-old also missed five games earlier this season due to an ankle injury, but declared himself back to full strength after playing four-straight games.

"My body's starting to feel really good," said Foran.

"It's great to be playing week in, week out footy and not have any niggles and injuries at the moment. My ankle's feeling good. Physically, I feel really good."

Titans prop urged to secure a Tonga jersey

In his second year in top grade, Fotuaika has continued to live up to the hype, elevating himself into the Titans starting team with consistently strong performances the past two weeks.

The 19-year-old responded by punching out 200-plus metres against both Manly and North Queensland and on Sunday faces the challenge of fronting up against former Keebra Park State High School teammates David Fifita and Payne Haas.

Emerging Tongans queuing up for Kiwis Test

Tonga coach Kristian Woolf said the likes of Broncos pair Kotoni Staggs and David Fifita, as well as   hard-running Titans forward Moeaki Fotuaika would all be considered for debuts against New Zealand next month.

Fainu would have potentially made his first Tongan cameo against Australia at the end of last year had he not been suspended, said Woolf, while Souths prop Junior Tatola looked set to add to his one Test appearance.