Lolohea set to feature for Tonga against Kiwis

Tuimoala Lolohea of Tonga fends off Gareth Widdop of England.

Leeds Rhinos star Tui Lolohea has been named in the Mate Ma’a Tonga squad for the upcoming Test against the New Zealand Kiwis in Auckland on Saturday June 22.

Coach Kristian Woolf has named a 22-man squad of players predominantly from the NRL, with Tonga’s 2017 Rugby League World Cup half Lolohea in line to travel back to play in the historic Test.

New faces in the squad include John Asiata from the Cowboys, Manly’s Manase Fainu, Broncos’ centre Kotoni Staggs, Titans’ prop Moeaki Fotuaika and Rooster Sitili Tupouniua.

World Cup representatives Mahe Fonua (foot) and Ata Hingano (thumb) were in the preliminary squad but are unavailable due to injury.

Head coach Kristian Woolf said he was pleased with the squad he has been able to assemble.

“We have had a good core of players for the Mate Ma’a Tonga team since the 2017 World Cup and we have been able to add some more depth this year,” he said.

“It is going to be a huge occasion coming up against the Kiwis on their home turf at Mount Smart Stadium.

“I know these players and the wonderful Tongan fans are already excited for the event, and this squad will give us every opportunity to perform well in the Test.”

The final Mate Ma’a Tonga team to face New Zealand will be named after this weekend’s games are concluded.

Leeds Rhinos Director of Rugby Kevin Sinfield commented, “As a club we have always been proud of our record of supporting international Rugby League. Although it means Tui will miss our game at St Helens, he goes with our full support. He is immensely proud to represent Tonga and we wish him all the best for this huge game against New Zealand.”

MATE MA’A TONGA PRELIMINARY SQUAD 
(alphabetical order) 

  • John Asiata (North Queensland Cowboys)
  • Manase Fainu (Manly Sea Eagles)
  • Andrew Fifita (Cronulla Sharks)
  • Addin Fonua-Blake (Manly Sea Eagles)
  • Moeaki Fotuaika (Gold Coast Titans)
  • David Fusi’tua (New Zealand Warriors)
  • Siliva Havili (Canberra Raiders)
  • Tuimoala Lolohea (Leeds Rhinos)
  • Will Hopoate (Canterbury Bulldogs)
  • Michael Jennings (Parramatta Eels)
  • Robert Jennings (Wests Tigers)
  • Solomone Kata (New Zealand Warriors)
  • Sione Katoa (Penrith Panthers)
  • Manu Ma’u (Parramatta Eels)
  • Tevita Pangai Junior (Brisbane Broncos)
  • Kotoni Staggs (Brisbane Broncos)
  • Tevita (Junior) Tatola (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
  • Sio Siua Taukeiaho (Sydney Roosters)
  • Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys)
  • Peni Terepo (Parramatta Eels)
  • Daniel Tupou (Sydney Roosters)
  • Sitili Tupouniua (Sydney Roosters)