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Havili desperate to help give back to Tonga

Rabbitohs and Mate Ma'a Tonga forward Siliva Havili is grateful the rugby league community is banding together to raise funds for his "little homeland" after not hearing from family for three weeks after the devastating volcano.

Together with Tongan clubmates Junior Tatola, Keaon Koloamatangi, Davvy Moale, Hame Sele and Shirley Mailangi, Havili hoped fans would embrace the Tongan Relief t-shirts to help raise funds for the battered island.

"The club's put a big initiative on trying to help out with what's going on in Tonga," Havili told NRL.com.

"We've got shirts made up from a designer that we're going to auction off through the Red Cross appeal and all profits will go towards Tonga and the recovery.

"It's a good initiative, we're trying to help out our little homeland. It's big for us, the Tongan boys here at the club so much respect to the club for making it happen."

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The specially designed T-shirts are available online, with all profits going to the Red Cross Tongan relief drive, but Havili also encouraged fans to support the initiative at Accor Stadium on Friday night for the clash against rivals the Roosters.

"Come to the games, a few of us Tongan boys will be wearing custom made boots just like Indigenous round with Tongan patterns and stuff," Havili added.

"We're auctioning off our jerseys through the Red Cross appeal too. Anyone can go online and see the Red Cross appeal and help donate whatever they can."

The t-shirts are designed by Tongan artist Kasitano Tuifua and feature Tongan traditional art and patterns, language, national flag and the Rabbitohs logo, according to the club.

Havili said the toughest part was the three weeks of not being able to contact family because the local networks were down.

"I've got some family over there. It was three weeks to a month where we didn't hear from them," Havili said.

"The networks were down. It was awesome to see network companies - Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, all of them have free call-in to Tonga for us to be able to communicate with family there.

"Once we got a hold of them it was a little bit easier and we were just hoping that everyone's safe. One thing with us Tongans, material things don't mean much.

"We're a big religious nation, we stick together and everything we do is together. A big family-orientated nation. With the help of us here in Australia and in New Zealand we can overcome anything. That's the sort of mentality I know Tongan people have.

"All the NRL, all the teams have come together to help and it's heart-warming for us Tongans.

"People are behind us … For us to give back to them - we went there through times when we were winning and they're going through a bit of a struggle now it's time for us to help them out."

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This Friday's game isn't just a chance for people to help out the Tongan community, it is also a chance for the club to get its first win of the season and Havili to experience his first game of Rabbitohs-Roosters rivalry.

"It's my first time suiting up for a rivalry match, first home game," he said.

"It's always a big encounter for us, it's a big rivalry and we want to get our season going and two points is up for grabs. That's the main goal for us."

He said he has enjoyed having a clearer role since shifting from the Raiders to the Rabbitohs.

"I've just got a clearer head, clearer role. Excited with the team we've got," he said.

"There's lots of talent and a lot of big stars around me. For myself coming into the team, I just want to be a good teammate, a teammate that's there for my peers alongside me. I want to do my job, do it with a lot of energy and purpose."

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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