22 Apr 2015

Sport: Tonga hope more tests will attract top NRL players

11:26 am on 22 April 2015

Tonga rugby league coach Kristian Woolf says next weekend's Pacific test double-header is a welcome addition to the calendar but says more international matches are still needed.

Tonga will take on Samoa and Fiji face Papua New Guinea next Saturday on the Gold Coast, the day after the ANZAC Test between New Zealand and Australia.

The Tongan Rugby League team

The Tongan Rugby League team Photo: Supplied

Kristian Woolf expects all but a few of his squad to be selected from NRL teams but says with the bulk of their players also eligible for the Kiwis and Kangaroos, it remains a challenge putting the best team on the field.

"When you play for Tonga you play for your family, your heritage and all the pride that comes with that, whereas if you're eligible for Australia or New Zealand and the bigger countries there's a really strong financial benefit. We realise that and it makes it really difficult. There's a lot of players [who are interested in playing for Tonga] and I spoke to Will Hopoate not that long ago and he'd love to play for Tonga but through the eligibility rules it'd mean that he's unavailable for Origin this year and that's certainly not a sacrifice he'd be able to make at this stage. It's a never-ending battle in that sense and what we want to do is get more games for Tonga and more of these sorts of tests".

Kristian Woolf says if the Mate Ma'a can continue to show improvements on the field it will encourage more NRL players to consider playing for the Kingdom.