Pacific Islands battle, Fiji to take on Tonga

The Fiji Residents rugby league team will host Tonga in the Ohana Cup next month in Hawaii.

Fiji Bati assistant coach Jo Rabele said they were concentrating on a game plan which the local players needed to use after consultation with head coach and Australian-based Michael Potter.

"The teams had been selected from our inter-zone competitions and they had gone through fitness tests. We selected the best players and I am trying to blend the boys together to build a better combination," he said.                    

"We are working on a game plan which we will use against Tonga during the match before going to Hawaii for the tournament."

No overseas based players playing in the National Rugby League competition would be selected in the team, he said.

This is to test local-based players and have their names considered for next year's Rugby League World Cup which will be held across Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

New Zealand's Saimon Lomaloma is the lone overseas-based player in the Residents team.

"Tonga is like us and the strength would be the same since they would bring their local players. We are trying to build up a combination which would be important against Canada," Rabele said.

"It is an important test match. A big challenge is to the boys and only the best 18 players will take up a spot in the team. There is Saimon Lomaloma who is a citizen of Fiji, but living in New Zealand. He came for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup trials and now he is playing for Sabeto Roosters. I want to keep the match fitness of the players up, so it is going to be tough."

The Fiji versus Tonga match will be played on August 12 at the ANZ Stadium in Suva. Meanwhile, Fiji National Rugby League Ltd chief executive officer Timoci Naleba left for Australia yesterday for a series of meetings which included discussions with the Melbourne Storms for a match against the Vodafone Fiji Bati next year..     


Photo: File Tonga Rugby League