Warriors centre Solomone Kata crosses for a try.

Tonga awaits clash of 'the golden boys'

The likely return of Jarryd Hayne has the rugby league community buzzing ahead of Sunday's clash between the Titans and Warriors, but in Tonga the population is eagerly awaiting a different feature of the Round 22 match.

Mate Ma'a Tonga representative centres Konrad Hurrell and Solomone Kata will be marking up on each other for the first time in their NRL Telstra Premiership careers, in a meeting of power, speed and light-hearted verbal sledges in Tongan.

 


The match will also be the first time Hurrell has come up against the Warriors, the club he starred for at Holden Cup level and played 71 first-grade games for between 2012 and midway through this season, before being granted a release to join Gold Coast.

"Those two are the golden boys from Tonga, so whoever wins I think he gets to own a village or something," Warriors prop Albert Vete joked to NRL.com

"'Solo' (Kata) will be trying to win his village… I think it is going to be a good match-up between them, Konrad is obviously going to be out to prove a point.

"Solomone is pretty solid on defence and 'Konny' (Hurrell) is a good attacker, Konny is going to push Sol's defensive boundaries because I don't think he has come up against a player before who runs like Konny.

"But the thing with Sol is that he is pretty footy smart and he can pass, kick and run the ball just as well as Konny."

Hurrell heads into the game at Cbus Super Stadium off the back of a strong showing against the Sharks on Monday night, in which he ran for 192 metres, made a line break and set up a try with a deft offload in heavy traffic.

For Kata, who has been among the Warriors' most-consistent performers this year with 10 tries in 18 games, it's all about limiting his countryman's time on the ball. 

 

 

"I watched Konrad's last game against the Sharks, he is playing really well at the moment, so the main thing for me is trying to stop him and that is what I will prepare to do," Kata told NRL.com.

"I'm not worried about scoring tries, the main focus all year has been on the defensive side.

"But I am looking forward to it and I know he is looking forward to it as well.

"We have been messaging a bit, we keep in touch, but we haven't talked about this week's game, we have stayed away from that.

"Before most of my games since he left the club, Konrad has flicked me a message to say good luck, and Manu Vatuvei and I have video called with him as well."

On a trip back to Tonga last year Kata set his family up with satellite TV so his parents and siblings could watch his games.

In a country where live television broadcasts are hard to come by, Kata expects his family home to be packed to the rafters come kick-off on Sunday.

"I paid for the satellite TV back at home so they could watch my games, I always call them after my game now to see if they watched it, and when they did that makes me happy," Kata said.

"Some of the village might end up at their house to watch this weekend."