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Feathers will fly as Roosters teammates go head to head

New Zealand forward Isaac Liu is relishing the prospect of mixing it up with a couple of familiar faces when the Kiwis take on a star-studded Ma'a Tonga pack on Saturday night in Auckland.

Liu and fellow Kiwi Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will go head-to-head with Roosters teammates Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Sitili Tupouniua in the forwards at Mount Smart Stadium.

Liu told he expects much of Tonga's plan will be built around Taukeiaho's carries, with the Auckland-born enforcer averaging 172 metres per game through his opening 12 Telstra Premiership matches this year. 

"Siua is playing outstanding and is going to be huge for his team," Liu said. 

"He is playing really well for the Roosters and will be one of the tough players to go up against.

"There might be a bit of a plan set around his carries and what they do off the back of them, but it comes back on us and how we defend him.

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"I am looking forward to it, it's a bit exciting that there's three boys in the Tongan team from the Roosters all up, and hopefully I can get a few runs and hits against them.

"It's nice and something different to play against one of your teammates in another side."

Liu felt a sense of pride when he saw Tupouniua's name in the Tonga squad and was impressed the 22-year-old had reached this level after only nine games of first grade. 

Tupouniua, one of four Auckland Marist Saints juniors named for Tonga, has become a familiar name on Roosters' coach Trent Robinson's interchange this year, with Liu certain he has a big future in international footy.

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"I am very proud of him, he has been playing really well for us and is starting to build his confidence," Liu told 

"He will get a lot more games in the NRL and at this level.

"I am very excited to see he is in the squad and looking forward to seeing him represent his country.

"The way he plays, the way he runs and defends … I think he will go really well."

Meanwhile New Zealand assistant coach Nathan Cayless said the loss of Andrew Fifita to suspension would be significant for Tonga but believes they are well placed to fill the void at prop.

One-time Kiwi international Addin Fonua-Blake will now likely start at prop, with South Sydney big man Tevita Tatola to join the bench after Fifita was unsuccessful in his bid to have a grade two dangerous contact charge downgraded.

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"It’s a massive blow for the Tongans, he is such a big part of their team," Cayless said of Fifita. 

"He's a big part of their attack and how he drives the players.

"[But] they have got a few other handy forwards in their side as well.

"Obviously their middle is a big strength of theirs, and you take Andrew out and it gives an opportunity to another player. 

"They've still got some firepower."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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