TNRL expulsion criticised: like "trying to kill a fly with a bazooka"

The Chair of the Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederation has criticised the decision to remove Tonga's representative from the world governing body.

The Tonga National Rugby League (TNRL) was expelled from the International Rugby League (IRL) in March, after a long-running battle over governance, money and a threatened player boycott.

APRL Chairman Sandis Tsaka believed the approach was too heavy-handed.

"There may have been some issues but the way that we tried to resolve the issue in Tonga was, I think, trying to kill a fly with a bazooka, if you know what I mean," he said.

"There was a better way to address the issues and get the outcome that was desired for the interests of the game in Tonga and the international game. The way we went about it, we felt, wasn't the right way to do it."

Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands voted in support of the TNRL.

Sandis Tsaka, who is also chair of the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League, says they backed their Pacific Island neighbours.

"I think all our Pacific nations were all united in that view," he said.

"We felt that we made our position on that - as a Pacific we do resolve this issue - and unfortunately I think it went down the way it did."

"All of us Pacific members voted at that time, that our position was getting Tonga (National) Rugby League out of International Rugby League was not the solution to the problem. There's another way to do it."

The Asia-Pacific Rugby League Board has already recommended a new governing body to represent Tonga, with Tonga Ma'a Tonga Rugby League (TMTRL) also having the support of the current Tongan players and coach.

TNRL's appeal against its expulsion from the IRL has been adjourned until December.

But Tsaka believed a window of opportunity still remained to broker a resolution.

"We hope that we can find an opportunity to build bridges between the different organisations out of Tonga and the different people that are involved," he said.

"So that we feel from the APRLC that the Pacific way may find the solution to solve this impasse and get Tonga Rugby League and rugby league in the Asia Pacific united again going forward."

"We always felt that to dismember Tongan Rugby League was the wrong way to go around it. The way to deal with it is to address the issues at Tonga Rugby League that were actually affecting the game.

"We feel that right now we feel that right now there is an opportunity to do that - bring all the parties in Tonga Rugby League together."