Two impressive winners from last weekend's Tests face off in Auckland on Saturday with Tonga, as always, desperate to prove their credentials as a genuine tier-one threat.

With a forward pack arguably the equal or better of any other nation and backs that hold their own, playmaking depth has generally been Tonga's Achilles heel.

Broncos teenager Fanatesi Niu made an outstanding start to his Test career in last weekend's impressive win over Great Britain, letting his running game do the talking and combining well with five-eighth Tui Lolohea.

Ata Hingano has recovered from a shoulder injury and has been named to start in the No.7 jersey this weekend.

A new-look Australian side was also very slick in a comfortable win over the Kiwis in Wollongong with 'Blues brothers' Damien Cook and James Tedesco combining particularly well.

Match: Tonga Invitational v Australia

Round 3 -

Full Time
Tonga Invitational

Home Team

Tonga Invitational

Scored 16 points
Australia

Away Team

Australia

Scored 12 points

Venue: Eden Park, Auckland

Match broadcasters:

  • Foxtel
  • KAYO
  • GEM

The Rundown

Team news

Kangaroos:  Rabbitohs' NSW Origin forward Cameron Murray is set to become Kangaroo No.832 after coach Mal Meninga named him at No.14, relegating Ben Hunt to the extended bench alongside Victor Radley and Clint Gutherson. The starting 13 from the win over the Kiwis is unchanged. Josh Papalii battled a chest/rib injury in the lead-up to last week's Test against New Zealand but showed no ill-effects this week, completing every training session. Cameron Munster has been battling a shoulder injury and suffered a "burner" in the Kangaroos' 26-4 win over the Kiwis, but like Papalii, the five-eighth hasn’t missed a session this week.

Tonga Invitational: Ata Hingano has recovered from a shoulder injury and has been named at halfback after Fanitesi Niu was a late inclusion last week. Andrew Fifita starts, with Addin Fonua-Blake to come off the bench. 

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Tonga Invitational is number 1 Will Hopoate
    Fullback for Australia is number 1 James Tedesco
  • Winger for Tonga Invitational is number 2 David Fusitu'a
    Winger for Australia is number 2 Josh Addo-Carr
  • Centre for Tonga Invitational is number 3 Michael Jennings
    Centre for Australia is number 3 Latrell Mitchell
  • Centre for Tonga Invitational is number 4 Konrad Hurrell
    Centre for Australia is number 4 Jack Wighton
  • Winger for Tonga Invitational is number 5 Daniel Tupou
    Winger for Australia is number 5 Nick Cotric
  • Five-Eighth for Tonga Invitational is number 6 Tuimoala Lolohea
    Five-Eighth for Australia is number 6 Cameron Munster
  • Halfback for Tonga Invitational is number 21 Kotoni Staggs
    Halfback for Australia is number 7 Daly Cherry-Evans

Forwards

  • Prop for Tonga Invitational is number 15 Addin Fonua-Blake
    Prop for Australia is number 8 Josh Papalii
  • Hooker for Tonga Invitational is number 9 Siliva Havili
    Hooker for Australia is number 9 Damien Cook
  • Prop for Tonga Invitational is number 10 Siosiua Taukeiaho
    Prop for Australia is number 10 David Klemmer
  • 2nd Row for Tonga Invitational is number 11 Ben Murdoch-Masila
    2nd Row for Australia is number 11 Boyd Cordner
  • 2nd Row for Tonga Invitational is number 12 Manu Ma'u
    2nd Row for Australia is number 12 Tyson Frizell
  • Lock for Tonga Invitational is number 13 Jason Taumalolo
    Lock for Australia is number 13 Jake Trbojevic

Interchange

  • Interchange for Tonga Invitational is number 8 Andrew Fifita
    Interchange for Australia is number 14 Cameron Murray
  • Interchange for Tonga Invitational is number 14 Sione Katoa
    Interchange for Australia is number 15 Payne Haas
  • Interchange for Tonga Invitational is number 19 Tevita Pangai Junior
    Interchange for Australia is number 16 Paul Vaughan
  • Interchange for Tonga Invitational is number 20 Joe Ofahengaue
    Interchange for Australia is number 17 Wade Graham

Key match-up

Daly Cherry-Evans v Ata Hingano. With Tonga matching up well in the forwards and outside backs, the biggest experience gap anywhere on the park lies in the halves. Hingano has limited experience at NRL level, while DCE is the classic and very much complete halfback. If Hingano and Lolohea do a reasonable job of getting the team around the park it could give Tonga a sniff.

For the Kangaroos to win

There are no weak links in the Kangaroos forward pack so if they can go toe-to-toe with Tonga's superstar middle rotation of Siosiua Taukeiaho, Jason Taumalolo, Andrew Fifita and Addin Fonua-Blake then the slick spine of Cook, Tedesco, Cherry-Evans and Cameron Munster are always a big chance of finding that game-breaking play when they need it.

For Tonga Invitational to win

It's about denying the above-mentioned play makers too many chances at the Tonga line. They defended impeccably against a Great Britain side boasting some high-calibre play makers, keeping the Lions scoreless for the first 70 minutes, while conjuring two tries of their own through off-the-cuff adventure. That will need to be the recipe once again - they'll just have to do it even better.

Stat Attack

Tonga's three starting middles combined for a tick under 600 metres last week, with skipper Taukeiaho clocking 254 – more than 100 of those post-contact, to go with a team-high 43 tackles and a perfect three from three off the kicking tee to boot in a massive 71-minute stint. Fonua-Blake and Taumalolo added 170 metres apiece; Dan Tupou (218) and Niu (182) putt in big numbers; and Tonga's run-first mentality should see them get downfield comfortably once again.

And another thing…

There has only ever been one match between Australia and a Tongan side and that came 12 months ago, with the Kangaroos cruising to a 34-16 win in Auckland. Expect plenty of red jerseys in the crowd again as Tonga searches for an upset.