Mate Ma'a Tonga

Mate Ma'a Tonga to field nine uncapped players in clash with Kiwis

Most of the team have played no more than one game for Tonga, with big names such as Andrew Fifita and Tevita Pangai Jnr watching from the side-line while Joe Ofahengaue sits in reserve.

The line-up is young with three teenagers in the mix, 19-year-olds Will Penisini, and Toluta'u Koula, along with 18-year-old reserve Isaiya Katoa. Despite the inexperience, Mate Ma'a Tonga Coach Michael Maguire said the players are being well prepped by the leading members of the team.

Mate Ma'a Tonga to perform special chant before match against Kiwis

Ko E Fetu’u’esiafi, the name of the chant, was given to the Tongan women's rugby league team back in 2008 by The Princess Royal, Salote Mafile’o Pilolevu Tuita. 

The name representing fire-carrying or shooting stars is an attribute the team hope to bring to this weekend's match against the three-time world champs.

Labour MP, Anahila Kanongata'a Suisuiki, the composer, says it’s now up to the ladies to perform. 

“We needed to compose something brand new to fit the new name that the team has been bestowed upon,” says Suisuiki. 

Mate Ma'a Tonga players arrive in New Zealand

A small crowd of Tongan supporters greeted the team at Auckland Airport which included Labour MP Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki.

Crowds have been reduced due to covid restrictions.

The team will greet the public and media at a joint gathering at Otahuhu Leopards Rugby League Club on Wednesday.

     

New children's book showcases Mate Ma'a Tonga's impact

"The Rise of the To'a" is co-authored by two teachers in Auckland, 'Alisi Tatafu and David Riley, and it follows the journey of a young Tongan boy learning about Tongan culture.

Intertwined through the chapters are short stories of each of the 33 rugby league players from the 2017 to 2019 squad.

The team is currently ranked fourth in the world. In 2017, Mate Ma'a Tonga, or MMT for short, had their most successful campaign, becoming semi-finalists at the Rugby League World Cup.

Tongan league players call for support as dispute continues

This week a powerful "Invitational XIII" was named to take on Great Britain and Australia in upcoming matches to be held in Hamilton and Auckland respectively.

Elite players like Jason Taumalolo, Andrew Fifita, Daniel Tupou, Tevita Pangai Junior and Siosiua Taukei'aho will all turn out for the Kristian Woolf-coached side.

The team will play under the banner of "Invitational XIII" after aSupreme Court ruling declared the Tonga National Rugby League (TNRL) was the only authority able to operate and control the official national representative side.

Tonga Rugby League in chaos over money and power play allegations in Mate Ma'a Tonga

A war of words broke out this week between Mate Ma'a Tonga players and their board following the sacking of coach Kristian Woolf.

The events have sparked outrage in the Tongan community and many of the team's players threatened to boycott the World Cup 9s and end of season tests if Mr Woolf wasn't reinstated. Many of their fans are backing their calls for the Chairman and secretary of the board to step down.

Chairman George Koloamatangi has hit back saying the players are misinformed about the situation and Mr Woolf had to go.

Frank Endacott appointed Mate Ma'a Tonga coach

The announcement comes after the sudden and bitter sacking of Kristian Woolf, who had been at the helm for the past five years.

Endacott only agreed to come on board yesterday and admitted it has all happened very quickly.

"Obviously there has been politics and problems within the camp but they've been resolved or in the process of being resolved," he said.

"I was asked if I'd be available and I said yes I would - I think it's an exciting prospect to be honest."

Tonga in need of sponsorship to continue playing in Oceania League Cup

Last weekend Mate Ma'a Tonga fans packed out Mt Smart Stadium once again but the team are now left in need of sponsorship to continue playing at the Oceania League Cup.

Melino Maka, says Tonga's NRL currently only have enough funding to pay for half of the two-week preparation period where the players will be training together in New Zealand before in the lead up to their next game in October.

Mr Maka has been working to coordinate permanent sponsorship for the team which he says is desperately needed.

Tonga look to the future after Kiwis defeat

The Kingdom were beaten 36-14 in their Oceania Cup rugby league test in Auckland, as the Kiwis made them pay for any defensive lapses.

Head coach Kristian Woolf said they played well for large periods of the match but were punished for defensive flaws.

"We had plenty of opportunities there at different times and just couldn't quite crack their line," he said.

Thousands flock to Mt Smart stadium

The Kiwi's coach has compared the clash to Australia's 'State of Origin' with the now infamous passion of Tonga's supporters expected to drown out any potential 'home' advantage.

The team's hugely successful Rugby League World Cup campaign in 2017 exposed many to the Pacific nation's pride for their team and country. Supporters dominated stadiums and red and white flags coloured neighbourhoods.

Over the past few weeks cars adorned with Tongan flags have reappeared on the Auckland's streets.