Internationals TONGA RLWC2013 Campaign

Full circle for Tonga's Brent Kite

By Andrew Bryan
11:00am Wed 23rd October, 2013Brent Kite had not even played first grade when he made his debut in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup for Tonga.

At the time he was just looking for an opportunity to crack into the big time and he saw playing for Tonga as a great way to get experience and get his name out there.Ironically, it was his name that got him a call-up to the Tongan team in the first place.

"I was a young kid looking to come to the UK and Tonga was my ticket," Kite explained to

"It was a funny situation where my last name is an English name, Kite, [and there] happens to be a Tonga name spelled the same pronounced 'Kit-eh', so I'm sure I was only picked up for that reason, it was purely coincidental.

"I was lucky enough to get picked, I was just stoked to be in the team and very proud to represent the country. It is very special to play for my mum's country of birth."

Kite's first-grade debut in the NRL at St George Illawarra Dragons didn't come until two years later in 2002.

Since his debut for Tonga in the World Cup, a 66-18 victory over South Africa in Paris, Kite has played in four grand finals and won two – including a Clive Churchill Medal-winning performance for Manly in 2008. He has played 10 games for New South Wales and 14 Tests for Australia, and is closing in on the NRL's exclusive 300-game club.

It is some list of accolades. And it all started when he was given the chance with an emerging nation playing international rugby league halfway around the world as an unknown youngster.

It is why this World Cup means so much. The wheel has turned full circle and now Kite is the eldest statesmen guiding the next bunch of Tongan players through.

"Tonga has a fair representation of players in the NRL and a massive number of players in the under-20s," Kite points out.

"If you go back to Tonga the infrastructure around league isn't great, it is more of a rugby union-supporting country. We'd like to turn that around. I think the quality of players we have coming through in the highest levels of the game should be reflected back in Tonga.

"This World Cup can only serve as a platform to do that. We know how important it is to have a great showing for the profile of rugby league in Tonga.

"Back in Tonga they don't export anything anymore, they don't even export coconuts. Their best export is people. They have great people with big hearts and they certainly have talented sportspeople."

Asked by what he was looking forward to most about the World Cup, the answer was simple.

"Lifting the profile of the Tongan team. We have a job to do here and that is to win games. The more games we can win the more we can help Tongan rugby league."

Tonga v Scotland: October 29 (October 30 Australian time)

Tonga v Cook Islands: November 5 (November 6 Australian time)

Tonga v Italy: November 10 (November 11 Australian time)
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Far Away Fan

There is a very, very good article by Renegade on today about Tonga's chances. Well worth looking up, IMO.

I've no connection with Tonga, but...WTF........GO TONGA!!!

And if they top their group, their game vs. likely opposition the Kiwis........
I'm gearing myself up for it already. Bring it on!


Waddya mean, Koni, "No sun shine" over there? Our very own sunshine is the one posting that! ;)

Here he is at some strange kind of Tonga Teams Got Talent an official function:
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There is a very, very good article by Renegade on today about Tonga's chances. Well worth looking up, IMO.

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Rugby League World Cup preview: Tonga to test world’s best Roar Pro
By Renegade, 24 Oct 2013 Renegade is a Roar Pro

2013 Rugby League World Cup, Konrad Hurrell, Mate Ma'a Tonga, Rugby League, Sika Manu
18 Have your say

+ enlarge image
Daniel Tupou will be one of the big guns of the Tonga World Cup side. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

Related coverage

The Tongans have declared their intentions on going after the ‘big three’ at the 2013 World Cup. Like most nations in this year’s tournament they’re fielding their strongest ever line-up, with coach Charlie Tonga selecting a squad with ample NRL experience.

Mate Ma’a Tonga
RLIF World Ranking: 10
Best Result: One group match win (2000, 2008)
2008 Finish: seventh
2013 RLWC Odds: $101

Tonga first appeared at the RLWC in 1995, just seven years after their first ever official international match.

The Mate Ma’a performed incredibly well in 1995 with their first ever World Cup match being one of the greatest in the tournament’s history.

That game against New Zealand provided the Warrington crowd a spectacle in every sense of the word, with a decisive Matthew Ridge field goal proving the difference as the Kiwis won 25-24.

Having to back up two days later after such an absorbing match, Tonga let slip a 22-6 lead against Papua New Guinea as the players began to run out of steam in the second half. The Kumuls came back to draw the game at 28-all in what was another RLWC classic.

As a result, the Tongans bowed out of the tournament without a win on debut, though the side could hold their head high after being more than competitive.

In 2000, the Tongans struggled in Pool C, losing matches against France and Papua New Guinea to bow out in the group stages again.

After the disappointment of 2000, the Mate Ma’a would re-surface as quality opposition during the Pacific Cup tournaments in 2004 and 2006. They would defeat Fiji 22-14 in the final of the 2006 tournament and subsequently qualify for their third World Cup.

In the 2008 RLWC, Tonga went in as favourites to progress from the pool stages in a group including Ireland and Samoa.

A first up win against the Wolfhounds set up a situation where they would only need to beat their arch-rivals Samoa to progress to the knockout stage for the first time. That match, played in front of a raucous crowd at Penrith, would again go down as one of the best in the tournament’s history with Samoa ending Tonga’s campaign 20-12.

The current captain Brent Kite led the Tongans out for a rematch against Samoa this year at the very same venue. The Mate Ma’a absolutely blitzed the Samoan side 36-4, never dropping their intensity and avenging their 2008 loss.

That match signalled Tonga’s intentions at the 2013 RLWC, and Charlie Tonga has a team that will be more than competitive.

Team Line-up (likely)
1. Glen Fisiiahi
2. Daniel Tupou
3. Konrad Hurrell
4. Sosaia Feki
5. Jorge Tafua
6. Samsoni Langi
7. Daniel Foster
8. Brent Kite (c)
9. Nafe Seluini
10. Fuifui Moimoi
11. Willie Manu
12. Jason Taumalolo
13. Sika Manu

14. Ukuma Taai
15. Siosa Vave
16. Peni Terepo
17. Patrick Politini

Squad Members: Mahe Fonua, Sydney Havea, Siliva Havili, Siuatonga Likiliki, Nesiasi Mataitonga, Mickey Paea, Ben Murdoch-Masila

Brent Kite will lead a hard running forward pack that includes Sika Manu, Jason Taumalolo and Parramatta Eels favourite, Fuifui Moimoi. This will certainly ensure that intensity levels will be high in matches involving Tonga.

The backline will provide just as much impact and will also be just as hard to tackle with Hurrell, Tupou, Taufua, Feki, Fisiiahi and Fonua battling for a position as outside backs.

The young halves pairing are relatively untested at the highest level, but they both produced the goods against Samoa earlier in the year and Charlie Tonga will have confidence in the pair.

Four hookers have been included in the squad, however Seluini is likely to be named in the starting side with Politini coming off the bench.

Key Player
I’m an unabashed fan of Sika Manu. The versatile back rower isn’t your typical looking rugby league player, and certainly isn’t the fittest, strongest or fastest.

What Manu does possess, though, is a brilliant rugby league mind. He hits the gaps well, runs some damaging lines, is hard to tackle and has an incredible amount of skill with the ball in hand. He will be a major part of Tonga’s campaign in this World Cup.

One to watch for the UK fans will be the Warriors’ devastating centre – Konrad Hurrell. He has taken his game to a new level this year and is so hard to stop when he has the ball in his hand, usually taking a few defenders with him.

The young centre will certainly provide the crowds plenty of entertainment – and his opposite number plenty of headaches.

Fixtures and Opponents
Vs Scotland @ Derwent Park, Workington. Kick-off – Wed 30th Oct 7am AEDT.
Vs Cook Island @ Leigh Sports Village, Leigh. Kick-off – Wed 6th Nov 7am AEDT.
Vs Italy @ The Shay, Halifax. Kick-off – Mon 11th Nov 3am AEDT.

Key Match
The final Group C match between Tonga and Italy is shaping up as a potential play-off for top spot.

Italy has shown that they are here to win after their 15-14 upset victory over England in the warm-up matches. Both sides will be up for this game and the winner may end up finding themselves in the quarter-finals.

RLWC 2013 Prospects
Once again punters are predicting Tonga to top their group and progress through to the knockout stages of the tournament. The Tongans have historically underachieved carrying those expectations and perform better when against the odds.

The Mate Ma’a should win their match against the Cook Islands and with only the top seed from Pool C progressing to the next stage, every win is vital. Scotland and Italy will certainly provide a contest.

If Tonga can finish on top of Group C, it will be the first time they have reached the quarter-final stage, setting up a potential mouth-watering clash against New Zealand.

My Conclusion
Well Roarers, that’s the 14th and last of my previews on the competing nations at the 2013 RLWC. I hope you enjoyed each read and good luck to all the participating nations and their supporters.

Like everyone else, I’m tipping the winner to come from the ‘big three’, however I’m certain we are about to witness an incredible World Cup.

The best part of all… there’s only two more sleeps to go. Bring it on!
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Warriors Orange Peeler
Happy birthday Jorge Taufua and Team Manager Bobby Jones...

Birthday boy Taufua and Siliva Havili...

Funny birthday wishes video from Hurrell...


Warriors Orange Peeler
Mate Ma'a Tonga name their 19 man Team for their first game against Scotland on Tuesday, 29th October at Derwent Park, Workington.

1. Glen Fisi’iahi
2. Daniel Tupou
3. Jorge Taufua
4. Konrad Hurrel
5. Sosaia Feki
6. Samisoni Langi
7. Daniel Foster
8. Brent Kite
9. Siliva Havili
10. Fuifui Moimoi
11. Sika Manu
12. Jason Taumalolo
13. Willie Manu
14. Nafe Seluini
15. Ben Murdoch-Masila
16. Ukuma Ta’ai
17. Mickey Paea
18. Siosaia Vave
19. Suiatonga Likiliki
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Solid team would have liked to see fonua n terepo there but still a very strong team. Can't wait!!

Agreed Terepo is a must - they need more variety in their backrower.
The blokes on the bench dont have enough tackles/variety in them.

Terepo has a good carry like the bench but offers a bit more d and variety similar to Manu.
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Warriors Orange Peeler
Tune into SKY Sport 2 at 9.00am tomorrow NZT for the clash between Mate Ma'a Tonga and Scotland (pictured are Scotland captain Danny Brough and Tonga skipper Brent Kite).

Included in Tonga's line-up are current Vodafone Warriors Glen Fisiiahi, Konrad Hurrell and Siliva Havili plus former Vodafone Warrior Ukuma Ta'ai and ex-Vodafone Junior Warriors Sosaia Feki and Nafe Seluini. Former Kiwis Sika Manu and Fuifui Moimoi are also in the side. Another ex-Warrior Ian Henderson will line up for Scotland.

Have to work so I'll be avoiding all social media till after I have watched the game on replay. Cant wait (but Im going to have to :depressed:!). MMT by 24.

Wow Tonga draw the Biggest Crowd in Cumbria for Twenty years !

Brian Noble admits to just having looked at the team sheet on the way in

" They have snuck up everyone , nobody is talking about them , what a Line up "

Noble singles out Kite , Moimoi , Manu , Taufua , Fonua , Tells us to look out for Jason Taumalolo "

Nobby mate wait till you see Hurrell and the Flying Fish LOL
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