12 Aug 2016

Sport: Fiji v Tonga Residents rugby league clash in Suva

1:31 pm on 12 August 2016

The Fiji Residents rugby league team take on their Tongan counterparts this afternoon in Suva.

The match is preparation for the Ohana Cup in Hawaii next weekend, where Mate Ma'a Tonga will take on Toa Samoa and Fiji clash with Canada.

The home side includes full Fiji Bati international winger Etuate Qionimacawa, who scored a hatrick on his test debut against Papua New Guinea in May.

Fiji National Rugby League CEO Timoci Naleba said a few others have represented the Residents team in the past but there are a number of new and young players, including Saimon Lomaloma.

Naleba said the match is a chance for local players to press their claims for a place in the Bati squad at next year's Rugby League World Cup.

"We are hoping to try identify players that can fill in some of the positions that the Fiji Bati is lacking in and all this preparation is for the World Cup next year. Also we have NRL players (in the main Bati team) but we would also like to see more local boys getting into the final team for the World Cup in 2017," he said.

"There's a huge expectation for the boys performance and we hope that after this first match it will build up the momentum from local competition and also for all the stakeholders here in Fiji to better improve our competition as well as to have more support for the local residents team."

The match is being played at ANZ Stadium in Suva, which this morning hosted a screening of Fiji's gold medal winning performance in the Olympic rugby sevens final.