Head injuries force Kangaroos captain into early retirement

Cordner's decision comes a little over two months after his Sydney Roosters team mate Jake Friend, who was co-captain with him at the NRL club, cited head injuries as his reason for quitting the sport.

"My heart was telling me I wanted to play on, and I was doing everything I possibly could, but my mind and my head was telling me otherwise, it was dragging me the other way," Cordner said.

"For once in my life and my career I had to put my health and my happiness first. It was an extremely tough decision to make."

Belief soars in Tonga camp ahead of Roos showdown

The Cowboys enforcer said the Pacific kingdom has found another level at training this week following the 14-6 win over the Lions at Waikato Stadium, and feel ready for whatever Australia will throw at them.

"If anything the boys have improved and everyone's got a bit of confidence under their belt after last week's game," Taumalolo said.

"The Kangaroos played a typical Australian style of footy against the Kiwis, grinding out teams and putting them to the sword.

Mate Ma'a Tonga and Kangaroos to compete in newly-unveiled Oceanic Cup next year

Under the plan that will be put to players associations on both sides of the globe for consultation, Great Britain will tour the southern hemisphere next year and face the Pacific nations and New Zealand, but not Australia.

The Kangaroos will then take a tour of Great Britain at the end of 2020 in a bid to ramp up interest ahead of the 2021 World Cup there the following year.

Australian squad named to face New Zealand, Tonga

Rabbitoh's revelation Damian Cook and Roosters phenom Latrell Mitchell have both been rewarded for their sparkling NRL campaigns, as have Panthers half Tyrone Peachey and NSW State of Origin stand-out, James Tedesco.

Kangaroos veteran Greg Inglis has been awarded the captaincy after the representative retirement of incumbent skipper Cameron Smith.

Coach Mal Meninga said the 19-man squad signalled the dawn of a "new era" for the test side and was eager to put them to the test against two formidable opponents.

Mate Ma'a Tonga vs Kangaroos Test a step forward for rugby league - Woolf

The two teams will meet for the first time on October 20, in Auckland.

The Australian players agreed for their $AU20,000 match fee to be slashed to less than $AU5000 for the game to help get the game over the line.

Mate Ma'a Tonga coach Kristian Woolf said the match between the tier one and two nations is a step forward for rugby league.

Tonga ready to compete with Kangaroos, says David Fusitu'a

A match-up between the world champions and the darlings of last year's World Cup has been muted for some time. Australia coach Mal Meninga is a fan of the idea and negotiations between the respective parties are said to be ongoing.

With Jason Taumalolo, Andrew Fifita and the rest of their World Cup squad sticking with Mate Ma'a Tonga, the Kristian Woolf-coached side showed they are here to stay with a dominant victory over Samoa last month.

The Tongans produced a first-half blitz that several experts believed would have given the Kangaroos a run for their money.

Meninga: Key positions up for grabs

The iconic trio of Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater have all retired from representative rugby, while Michael Morgan has suffered a season-ending pectoral tear.

As such, Meninga is keeping a close eye on the Origin series, which New South Wales Blues lead 1-0 after game one.

"A lot of weight will be placed on the Origin series this year and who wins it," Meninga said.

"Particularly around the spine, your nine, seven, six and one. Some of our greatest ever players have retired so our spots are wide open."

Smith calls for more international matches

His comments come after a Rugby League World Cup that he believes has grown the international game. 

The emergence of Tonga, Fiji and Lebanon as competitive rugby league nations has helped build interest in the international game. 

Smith, the president of the Rugby League Players Association, wants the powers at be to capitalize on this momentum. 

The 34-year-old is passionate about the international game after having played 56 Tests for Australia. This number is set to grow in 2018 after Smith committed to another year of representative football. 

Kangaroos praise Lebanon's

Brad Fittler's men were in the contest at half-time but injuries and a lack of big-game experience came back to haunt them in the final 20 minutes as Australia piled on a couple of late tries to boost their already impressive points differential. 

While they couldn't crack Australia's defence, Lebanon held their own and threatened at times with their left edge causing plenty of headaches for Tom Trbojevic and Dane Gagai. 

Kangaroos’ centre stocks thin: Renouf

Manly's Dylan Walker – the Dally M Centre of the Year – was an unfortunate casualty of the Prime Minister's XIII game in Papua New Guinea and would almost certainly have earned selection, but his absence leaves Chambers and Dane Gagai as the only Kangaroos to have played a minimum of five NRL games in the centres this season.

Instead, the proliferation of fullbacks at the representative level continued with Meninga selecting five players who have spent significant time in the No.1 jersey during the course of the season.