The Tonga men's sevens team have set their sights on the Tokyo Olympics after sealing their return to World Series competition.
The Kingdom beat the Cook Islands 29-12 in the fifth place playoff at the Oceania Sevens in Suva last weekend to qualify for the Hamilton and Sydney legs of the World Series next year, as well as World Series Qualifier event in Hong Kong.
Tonga last featured on the World Series five years ago when they failed to win a game at the Gold Coast and Wellington events.
The Kingdom did qualify for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco earlier this year but were beaten by Kenya in the preliminary round.
But new head coach Tevita Tu'ifua said the performance of his new-look squad, which comprised three local players and nine based in New Zealand, was encouraging after a very limited build-up.
"It has meant a lot for the rugby lovers and Tonga Rugby Union, especially for the sevens players, that we have been given this opportunity to be able to survive again and to come into the circuit," he said.
"It will be good for the competition and good for Tonga Rugby as well and for the players development."
"I had faith in the group that we prepared and we selected, given the time that was given with the short turnaround, with just six weeks preparation," said Tu'ifua, who is a former 'Ikale Tahi and Tonga sevens international.
"But I think it was just enough time for us to pull everything together and we have got many helping hands here in Auckland which really made a massive difference for our preparation."
With just over ten weeks until Tonga takes the field again at the New Zealand International Sevens, Tevita Tu'ifua plans to hold open training sessions in Auckland from next week for any players wanting to be involved in the team's World Series campaign and beyond.
"There have been quite a few phone calls and messages coming through and I think that was one of our targets - to be able to change the perception of Tonga sevens looking from outside from the public," he said.
"We're just having a staff meeting this week...and we will commence next week our training so it will be open invitation as well as the group that we had for the Oceania (Championship)," he said.
"I'd still like to keep the competition healthy and we will open up to the public and I think it will be quite an opportunity for the guys locally here in New Zealand to put their hands up."
"I was focusing on developing the new blood and targeting a return [to the World Series] and hopefully we will get to secure the trip, the goal long term is to get to the Olympics [in 2020], that's where we're heading."