Fifita set to take on Kangaroos in end-of-season Test

Fifita set to take on Kangaroos in end-of-season Test

Tonga coach Kristian Woolf is confident the Mate Ma'a and Australia will face off in an end-of-season Test, pitting Andrew Fifita against his former Kangaroos teammates.

Jason Taumalolo and other members of the star-studded Tonga side who captured the imagination of fans at last year's World Cup are also expected to be available for the historic Test, which may be played at Suncorp Stadium in October.

Discussions with promoters about playing in Hawaii, Qatar or the United States are continuing but it is believed the Test would be more financially viable if staged in Australia.

It is understood details of the clash need to be finalised by August 30 and the Rugby League International Federation has not yet received an application to sanction an Australia-Tonga Test at the organisation's next meeting on Thursday.

However, Woolf said indications were the Test would proceed and players who have represented the Mate Ma'a at the World Cup have again committed to Tonga, including Fifita, Michael Jennings, David Fusitua and Solomone Kata.

"We have shown we can certainly compete with the Tier One nations and the next step for Tongan rugby league is to find ways to continue to get opportunities to play against Tier One nations and to continue to improve," Woolf told NRL.com.

"There is a company involved in the process and doing the feasibility about what needs to be done to ensure it is a financial success, and my understanding is that all signs are positive so far and something is going to happen.

"I think it is more likely to end up being in Australia, just in terms of making sure it is commercially viable."

The Mate Ma'a played before sell-out crowds for most of their World Cup fixtures in New Zealand, including the pool match in which they stunned the Kiwis 28-22 before losing 20-18 to England in the semi-final.

Tonga fans also took the streets in Sydney and Brisbane to celebrate the success of the team or protest at their controversial elimination and Woolf said a Test against Australia would attract significant interest.

"The World Cup showed that Tonga supporters will certainly get behind the team and will certainly travel so I think wherever it is played in Australia or New Zealand there will certainly be a really good contingent," he said. "Australia carry the flag as well, so I think it will be very successful."

The Kangaroos are scheduled to play New Zealand in Auckland on October 14 but Australian coach Mal Meninga is keen to organise further Tests and has been involved in discussions about playing Tonga for the first time outside of a World Cup fixture.

Jason Taumalolo and Tonga during the 2017 World Cup.
Jason Taumalolo and Tonga during the 2017 World Cup. ©Fiona Goodall/NRL Photos

While Taumololo hasn't confirmed his allegiances to Tonga, Fifita revealed last month that the pair had met in Townsville and agreed they would play in the Pacific Test against Samoa on June 23 at Campbelltown Stadium.

Fifita said Sydney Roosters forward Sio Siua Taukieaho and Jennings' Parramatta teammate Manu Ma'u had also pledged their allegiances to Tonga, along with in-form Brisbane Broncos prop Tevita Pangai junior.

"There is a few guys who haven't come out publicly yet and said what they want to do and there are a number who have," Woolf said. "I would be very surprised if all or the vast majority of them don't play for Tonga again this year."

Meanwhile, Fiji have appointed former Kangaroos forward Matt Adamson to replace Mick Potter as coach for the Bati's Pacific Test clash with Papua New Guinea.

Fiji were added to the Pacific Test schedule after Lebanon withdrew and RLIF intervened to ensure the Bati players received outstanding payments from the World Cup.

However, it remains unclear whether Fiji's NRL stars such as Suliasi Vunivalu, Apisai Koroisau, Kevin Naiqama and Villiame Kikau will play as the players are demanding that the FNRL chairman and CEO resign.