12 Mar 2018

Sport: Tonga hopeful of Kangaroos clash

1:55 pm on 12 March 2018

Tonga's rugby league team could take on world champions Australia this year.

Mate Ma'a Tonga Head Coach Kristian Woolf.

Mate Ma'a Tonga Head Coach Kristian Woolf. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Tonga's coach Kristian Woolf said there had been talk of a match in October, with Qatar and Hawai'i touted as possible venues in an effort to expand the game globally.

Tonga made waves during the 2017 World Cup when they upset New Zealand, before narrowly losing to England in the semi-final while drawing large crowds everywhere they played.

They missed out on a requested rematch with the Kiwis this year, but a match against the Kangaroos was "more reality than fantasy," Woolf said.

"I would be surprised if that game doesn't go ahead. I think there is too much interest from us, from Australia, from a lot of parties to make it happen," he said.

"I know that in terms of the International Rugby League Federation and the NRL, there is certainly interest and support there. It is just a matter of where we play that game so that it's appealing for the Australian players in particular."

The Tonga National Rugby League would not give up on getting an annual clash with New Zealand, Woolf said.

That was despite last week's confirmation the Kiwis would play England in Denver in June, the first of three US based matched between the two sides slated to take place between 2018 and 2020.

The interest his team generated during the World Cup showed there was demand from people to see Tonga play the Kiwis again, Wold said.

"I've made my point really clear that I think that it is a must have game and I think the general public feel exactly the same way," he said.

"We'll certainly do everything we can to make it happen. We are disappointed that it can't happen this year because I think it is something that the game misses out on."

Discussions were ongoing with New Zealand and Wolf said he hoped the two teams would play next year.

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