November 04, 2019
Island of origin push boosts Tonga prowess
Tongan rugby league's back to back wins against Great Britain and Australia could open doors for other Pacific nations and even for the kiwis.
That's the view of long time Tongan rugby league supporter and administrator Will 'Ilolahia after the Tongan squad, playing as an invitational team for legal reasons, trounced Australia 16-12 in the Oceania Cup.
He says Tonga players' fight to play for their island of origin has paid off with the calibre of the 17 players they were able to field.
"The case that we had back in 2005 against the board with regard to Fuifui Moimoi wanting to change allegiance to play for his island of origin created an opening for a lot of our people, allowing some of these players, Mate Ma'a Tonga and other guys, to play for their island of origin which makes rugby league now a far more interesting code," he says.
Will 'Ilolahia says the trend could also open up more places for Māori players in the Kiwis.
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