Tonga takes low-key approach to RLWC

Tonga will be taking a relaxed approach to the last offseason before the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea will host the tournament, from October 27 to December 2, 2017.

The World Cup draw was announced last week with Tonga drawn to play New Zealand, Samoa and Scotland in Pool B.

The Mate Ma'a Tonga won't play any fixture or gather again this year despite a big year coming up.

In October the Kiwis will play Australia, Samoa is scheduled to host Fiji and Papua New Guinea will conduct a training camp but Tonga's coach Kristian Woolf said there were no plans for his squad, which he believed was a positive.

"We've played a game every year for the last three years," he said.

"It's a very draining exercise, both physically and financially. You're sort of adding to a long season for a lot of players and it's draining on the clubs as well in terms of clubs not always wanting players to miss parts of preseason and that type of stuff.

"With a World Cup coming up next offseason we thought it might be best to actually give everybody a break and let the players have a real offseason where they mentally and physically freshen up."

Woolf said he could also not be assured of who would be available for the Tongan team come World Cup time as there were plenty opportunities for other international teams to take their pick of players with Tongan heritage before then.

Despite Tonga should still be able to bring together a competitive squad.

Woolf said they will have to be at the top of their game against tough pool opponents.

He said even a lesser-known Scotland would pose a challenge.

"We played Scotland in the first round in the 2013 World Cup and they probably did catch us by a surprise a little bit there," Woolf said.

"There were a few things that caught us by surprise with the weather conditions and the field conditions and a number of things actually. It was a little bit of a surprise so that's something we have to learn from and make sure it doesn't happen again."


Tonga are announced at the RLWC 2017 draw. Photo: Photosport