Mate Ma’a Tonga boasts nine current or former Vodafone Warriors in its line-up for the Rugby League World Cup.
David Fusitu’a, Ata Hingano and Solomone Kata are joined by ex-Vodafone Warriors Tuimoala Lolohea, Siliva Havili, Ukuma Ta’ai, Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Konrad Hurrell plus the club’s try-scoring record holder Manu Vatuvei.
The Tongan Rugby League has officially unveiled North Queensland star Jason Taumalolo and Kangaroo Andrew Fifita in its squad along with Manu Ma’u, Fusitu’a and Taukeiaho who have decided to make themselves unavailable for the Kiwis.
Taumalolo yesterday pledged his allegiance to Tonga for the tournament and will now be joined by a host of high-profile NRL stars.
Fifita today advised Australian coach Mal Meninga he wished to switch to Tonga while Taukeiaho, Fusitu’a and Ma’u also advised the New Zealand Rugby League they would commit to Tonga.
The five big names are joined in the 24-man squad by former Kangaroos Michael Jennings and Daniel Tupou.
Other players to note include Titans centre Konrad Hurrell, Tigers half Lolohea, former Storm grand final winner Sika Manu and ex-Vodafone Warriors crowd favourite Vatuvei, who scored 152 tries in 226 matches for the club from 2004-2017.
It’s a squad heavy on outside backs – Hopoate, Vatuvei, Kata, Fusitu’a, Tupou, Hurrell, Jennings, Mahe Fonua and Tevita Pangai junior.
“The Tongan Rugby League is very pleased with the squad we have been able to assemble and when you see names like Taumalolo, Fifita, Taukeiaho, Ma’u, Hopoate, Jennings and Tupou in the team, you can understand why,” said Tongan head coach Kristian Woolf.
“We have been drawn in a very strong group that includes the might of New Zealand, traditional neighbours and foes Samoa, and previous Four Nations participants Scotland.
“Tonga needed to pick a strong a squad as possible and with the team we have been able to assemble, we think we have the ability to be very competitive.”
RLWC2017 | MATE MA’A TONGA
Andrew Fifita (Cronulla Sharks)
Mahe Fonua (Hull FC/Wests Tigers)
David Fusitu’a (Vodafone Warriors)
Siliva Havili (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Mafoa’aeata Hingano (Vodafone Warriors)
Will Hopoate (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
Konrad Hurrell (Gold Coast Titans)
Michael Jennings (Parramatta Eels)
Solomone Kata (Vodafone Warriors)
Sione Katoa (Penrith Panthers)
Samisoni Langi (Leigh Centurions)
Tuimoala Lolohea (Wests Tigers)
Sika Manu (Hull FC)
Manu Ma'u (Parramatta Eels)
Sam Moa (Les Catalans Dragons)
Ben Murdoch-Masila (Salford City Red Devils)
Joe Ofahengaue (Brisbane Broncos)
Tevita Pangai junior (Brisbane Broncos)
Ukuma Ta'ai (Huddersfield Giants)
Sio Siua Taukieaho (Sydney Roosters)
Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys)
Peni Terepo (Parramatta Eels)
Daniel Tupou (Sydney Roosters)
Manu Vatuvei (Salford City Red Devils)
MATE MA’ TONGA AT RLWC2017 | POOL GAMES
v Scotland Bravehearts
4.15pm, Sunday, October 29
Barlow Park, Cairns
v Toa Samoa
7.30pm, Saturday, November 4
FMG Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
v New Zealand Kiwis
5.00pm, Saturday, November 11
FMG Waikato Stadium, Hamilton