11 Nov 2017

Sport: Ex international believes upset is on cards for Tonga

11:29 am on 11 November 2017
Tonga's Tuimoala Lolohea is all smiles with fans after beating Samoa.

Tonga's Tuimoala Lolohea is all smiles with fans after beating Samoa. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

A former Tongan rugby league player and manager believes the Mate Ma'a Tonga can upset the Kiwis in their Rugby League World Cup clash in Hamilton tonight.

William Edwards played five internationals in 1991 and 1992 and helped manage the team years later.

Although he thinks the likes of Mahe Fonua and Tevita Pangai Junior should be getting more game time, he thinks the squad has gathered momentum nicely during the tournament.

Mr Edwards said he believes the Tongans can do the "unthinkable" and beat New Zealand, because they have gone close in the past.

"They almost did it in the 2000 World Cup - we lost by a point by a Matthew Ridge penalty that just broke our hearts and Rotorua I thought that game was was ours, 2009."

"I honestly believe that game was ours and we scored a number of tries in that game - that was a very close game - so, if you ask me whether we can do it, I have faith in the boys and I have faith in the team," he said.

However William Edwards said the team has to realise they will need to back up the following week, not matter what happens.

"Albeit this is a big game we don't want this to be our final. We just want this to be our next game and then turnaround and look towards the quarters," he said.

Tonga are drawn to play their quarterfinal match in Christchurch against either the Fiji Bati or Lebanon.