Tonga names powerful squad, packed with ex-Kiwis
David Fusitu'a, Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Manu Ma'u have joined the exodus from the Kiwis team and will all line up for Tonga at the Rugby League World Cup.
Tonga announced its team on Thursday in Brisbane and confirmed that these three players have joined Jason Taumalolo in snubbing the Kiwis to play for Tonga.
As already revealed, Andrew Fifita has also joined Tonga, pulling out of the Kangaroos squad.
Like Taumalolo, Fusitu'a, Taukeiaho and Ma'u were all born in Auckland and while their inclusion in the Tongan squad makes that team stronger, it significantly weakens a Kiwis team already missing a number of stars.
Also in the Tongan team are former Kangaroos Michael Jennings and Daniel Tupou, while former Warriors players Tuimoala Lolohea, Manu Vatuvei and Konrad Hurrell are also included in the 24-man squad.
"The Tongan Rugby League is very pleased with the squad we have been able to assemble," said Tongan head coach Kristian Woolf.
"When you see names like Taumalolo, Fifita, Taukeiaho, Ma'u, Hopoate, Jennings and Tupou in the team, you can understand why.
"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 an with the team we have been able to assemble, we think we have the ability to be very competitive."
Tonga are set to play against the Kiwis in the final game in Group B, at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on November 11.
Given the defections, there is sure to be some added spice to this game, particularly if it is the game which determines who finishes top in the pool.
If the Kiwis were to lose that game, it could result in them having to play a semifinal against Australia in Brisbane later in the competition, while England would be expected to play against Tonga in Auckland.
Tongan squad: Andrew Fifita, Mahe Fonua, David Fusitu'a, Siliva Havili, Ata Hingano, Will Hopoate, Konrad Hurrell, Michael Jennings, Solomone Kata, Sione Katoa, Samisoni Langi, Tuimoala Lolohea, Sika Manu, Manu Ma'u, Sam Moa, Ben Murdoch Masila, Joe Ofahengaue, Tevita Pangai jnr, Ukuma Ta'ai, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Jason Taumalolo, Peni Terepo, Daniel Tupou, Manu Vatuvei.