New Zealand's on-field rivalry with Tonga has never been stronger, but Kiwis prop Martin Taupau said beating Australia remains New Zealand's primary objective.
Tonga, boosted by the inclusion of the likes of Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita, scored an historic win over New Zealand in the 2017 World Cup before losing to England in the semi-finals.
Taupau, who endured a miserable club season with the Manly Sea Eagles, is thrilled with the arrival of Tonga as a Test force but said the Kangaroos remain their No.1 foe.
"It is awesome for the Pacific nations, what Tonga is doing," Taupau said.
"They definitely have an amazing squad on paper, they will definitely give the Kangaroos a run for their money.
"We got a taste of that back in Hamilton [at the World Cup].
"I wish them all the very best but for us, we are more focused on the Kangaroos than Tonga."
Taupau lauds Maguire influence
While Taupau and his fellow Kiwi forwards will take on the likes of David Klemmer, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Jordan McLean and Aaron Woods, New Zealand winger Jordan Rapana is preparing for a dual with either Valentine Holmes or Tom Trbojevic.
The scorer of 67 tries in 97 career matches, Rapana echoed Taupau's pride in what Tonga had brought to the international game in the past 18 months.
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"It is wonderful. Great for the game," Rapana said.
"I was a part of that World Cup where we played in Hamilton. Having all those Tongans there … even being on the opposing team gave me goosebumps. It was awesome, great for their culture and great for rugby league."