Andrew Fifita thinks Tonga are a bigger draw card than Kangaroos
25 June, 2018, 4:00 pm
SYDNEY, 25 JUNE 2018 (AAP) – Andrew Fifita says he and Tonga are ready for a shot at the Kangaroos, declaring it would be a certain crowd puller for international rugby league. Fifita helped kickstart a revolution of the global game last year when he walked away from Australia to play for Tonga, creating unprecedented interest in the Pacific nations with the help of Jason Taumalolo.
Tonga are desperate for a maiden Test against the Kangaroos at the end of this year and did their chances no harm in Saturday night’s 38-22 defeat of Samoa in front of almost 18,000 people at Sydney’s Campbelltown Stadium.
It came off the back of last year’s World Cup success, where they drew sold-out crowds against both New Zealand and England as they fell two points short of the final.
“It’d be a massive game if we can get it on,” Fifita told AAP.
“Looking at last year I went and played for Australia (in the representative round) and there was barely anyone in the crowd for Australia and New Zealand down in Canberra.
“Then I came here (to the Pacific Test at Campbelltown) and it was a full house. You look at the crowd tonight, wherever we play the crowd is going to follow.”
Both coach Kristian Woolf and Taumalolo have also been vocal this week about their desire to meet Australia, however, no match is locked in.
The most likely outcome would be in Australia in late October, potentially the week after the Kangaroos face the Kiwis in Auckland on October 13.
“We’re trying to move forward and we want to play the bigger and better teams,” Fifita said.
“It’s not just myself. For the people, Tonga in general, we want to see it.
“We’ll let them play their Test against New Zealand and if they want to back up and face us we’ll be more than happy to.
“They’re the current world champions and the missing piece of the puzzle.”
And if they do meet, Fifita is confident they could mix it with his former team of choice after they put 36 points on Samoa on Saturday night in a 40-minute period where they had 70 per cent of possession.
“We’re still building,” Fifita said.
“We’‘ve got a fair amount of talent off with Fus (David Fusitu’a), Solomone Kata and Tevita Pangai Junior still to come into this team.
“At fully fit, we’re going to be hard to beat. We just want to build the game even more, especially at an international level.”
Meanwhile Woolf said he also wanted a regular Test with New Zealand inserted into the calendar.
“It’s a grudge match,” he said.
“We’ve got certainly plenty of blokes who played for New Zealand and play for us now and that adds to it.
“We just think it’s an event that will get bigger and bigger and has to be a regular on the international calendar.”