Vodafone Warriors David Fusitu’a and Solomone Kata have both been named in an extended 22-man Mate Ma’a Tonga squad for the inaugural Oceania Cup Test against the New Zealand Kiwis at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland on Saturday, June 22 (5.40pm kick-off).
Fusitu’a and Kata were both in the Tonga line-up which lost 16-34 to the Kangaroos in last year’s historic first international between the two countries in Auckland.
Also in the squad are former Vodafone Warriors Tuimoala Lolohea (Leeds), Siliva Havili (Canberra) and Sio Siua Taukeiaho (Sydney Roosters).
Mate Ma’a Tonga coach Kristian Woolf’s squad comprises 21 NRL players with Lolohea the sole representative from the English Super League.
New faces in the squad include John Asiata (Cowboys), Manase Fainu (Sea Eagles), Kotoni Staggs (Broncos), prop Moeaki Fotuaika (Titans) and Roosters interchange forward Rooster Sitili Tupouniua.
World Cup representatives Mahe Fonua (foot) and Ata Hingano (thumb) were in the preliminary squad but are unavailable due to injury.
“We have had a good core of players for the Mate Ma’a Tonga team since the 2017 World Cup and we have been able to add some more depth this year,” he said.
“It is going to be a huge occasion coming up against the Kiwis on their home turf at Mount Smart Stadium.
“I know these players and the wonderful Tongan fans are already excited for the event, and this squad will give us every opportunity to perform well in the Test.”
The final Mate Ma’a Tonga team to face New Zealand will be named after this weekend’s NRL round concludes.
MATE MA’A TONGA SQUAD
JOHN ASIATA (North Queensland Cowboys)
MANASE FAINU (Manly Sea Eagles)
ANDREW FIFITA (Cronulla Sharks)
ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE (Manly Sea Eagles)
MOEAKI FOTUAIKA (Gold Coast Titans)
DAVID FUSITU’A (New Zealand Warriors)
SILIVA HAVILI (Canberra Raiders)
TUIMOALA LOLOHEA (Leeds Rhinos)
WILL HOPOATE (Canterbury Bulldogs)
MICHAEL JENNINGS (Parramatta Eels)
ROBERT JENNINGS (Wests Tigers)
SOLOMONE KATA (New Zealand Warriors)
SIONE KATOA (Penrith Panthers)
MANU MA'U (Parramatta Eels)
TEVITA PANGAI JUNIOR (Brisbane Broncos)
KOTONI STAGGS (Brisbane Broncos)
TEVITA (JUNIOR) TATOLA (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
SIO SIUA TAUKEIAHO (Sydney Roosters)
JASON TAUMALOLO (North Queensland Cowboys)
PENI TEREPO (Parramatta Eels)
DANIEL TUPOU (Sydney Roosters)
SITILI TUPOUNIUA (Sydney Roosters)