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All the king's men: Tongan Roosters hopeful after royal support

Roosters Tongan players say they are confident of their proud island nation fielding strong teams in the upcoming World Nines and Oceania Tests after intervention from the country's Prime Minister and support from the King ahead of a promising RLIF ruling.

A letter from acting Prime Minister Semisi Sika and public support for change from King Tupou VI, along with a list from the RLPA of the host of stars currently boycotting Tonga representation following a schism between the players and Tongan Rugby League board, led to the nation being uninvited from the World Nines and Oceania Cup Tests.

Those players may return under an interim board in time to field a full-strength line-up in the upcoming Nines and Tests.

"I think the investigation is still going on but I do feel confident there's going to be a side [in the upcoming games]," Tonga and Roosters winger Daniel Tupou told

"That's where I'm at at the moment, hopefully we find out more about what's going on but I do feel confident we'll have a team in the Nines."

Tupou welcomed the actions of the Prime Minister and support from the King.

"With his power it's good he's come in and helped the situation," Tupou said.

"There's been a lot going on behind the scenes, with his strength and role it's good he's come in to try and help our situation. The more we can get whatever's happening [sorted out] the more we can just focus on our footy."

Tupou's clubmate and Test teammate Siosiua Taukeiaho, who has been very public in supporting fellow Tonga stars like Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita in the boycott, was also hopeful the dramas may be coming to an end.

"I think the King and Prime Minister and coaching staff are all doing a wonderful job trying to get us players back on board, getting all the coaching staff back on board," Taukeiaho told

"I think we've done an awesome job since the World Cup and we want to keep that.

"We're not just doing it for ourselves, we're trying to build the game, get all our fans back supporting us. I haven't looked too much into it, my main focus is here with the Roosters and Sunday's game but if they can sort all that out it will be good."

Meanwhile another Rooster preparing for the grand final was less prepared for questions about the Nines.

"The Nines? I dunno," laughed Cook Islands international Zane Tetevano.

"I'm just thinking how fast it's going to be!

"You've got those Kalyn Pongas and Tuivasa-Shecks, James Tedesco, guys that have got fast feet.

"I reckon I'd be all right. It's going to be exciting, it's good to see it back."

As for whether he would be available for a call-up, Tetevano seemed to talk himself around.

"I haven't thought about it but if I'm selected in any way I'll have a jam, have a bit of fun, show some footwork. I'd take the opportunity," he said.

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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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