'Who the hell is Adam Blair? I'll bash him' - former NRL bad boy John Hopoate jokingly stands up for Jason Taumalolo

The former boxer and NRL player has joined the team in Tonga with his son Will named to captain the side. Source: 1 NEWS


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Tonga coach backing Andrew Fifita for Test match captaincy

Andrew Fifita has emerged as a shock Tonga captaincy contender after skipper Sika Manu was ruled out of next month's historic rugby league Test against Australia with a knee injury.

Tonga coach Kristian Woolf is reeling after Manu suffered the season-ending injury in Hull FC's UK Super League last-round loss to St Helens just days after naming his initial 29-strong Test squad.

"That's devastating for the team. He's an integral part of the side, we will certainly miss him," Woolf told AAP.

"Now we have to look at someone filling that void."

North Queensland's Jason Taumalolo and Canterbury livewire Will Hopoate appeared favourites as fill-in skippers for Tonga's first clash against Australia after sharing the captaincy in Manu's absence in June's Pacific Test.

But Woolf believed Fifita had shown this year he could step up and lead the Mate Ma'a in the October 20 clash in Auckland.

"We have emerging leaders in the group like Jason Taumalolo and Will Hopoate but there are a number of guys who have real leadership potential like Andrew Fifita," Woolf said.

"He has certainly shown some leadership at the Sharks this year but it will come down to who we think is best suited."

Fifita has filled in as Cronulla skipper this year but appeared an unlikely Tonga captaincy choice after last month's post-try blow-up at the Sharks coach's box and a recent foul-mouthed podcast appearance.

However, Woolf said Fifita had become a spiritual leader for Tonga after inspiring others with his surprise 2017 World Cup switch from the Kangaroos to the Mate Ma'a.

Taumalolo followed his lead, switching from New Zealand, before Tonga made a dream run to the Cup semi-finals.

Woolf said it was inspiring for the team that Fifita and Taumalolo had committed to Tonga "for the long haul".

"They have made a massive impact, that is obvious to see," he said.

"It speaks volumes of those blokes as people the way they have taken a punt and made a sacrifice, and also the way people have wanted to be involved because of them.

"They are committed to Tonga and set for the long haul.

"Any success we have they can be proud of the contribution they have made."

Scott Sorensen - nephew of Kiwi greats Dane and Kurt Sorensen - is Tonga's latest convert after the Cronulla forward was named in the extended squad.

Woolf will name his final squad next month before taking Tonga on a 10-day camp.

Tonga's Andrew Fifita and Tevita Pangai Junior celebrate Rugby League World Cup win over the Kiwis at FMG Stadium in Hamilton. Kiwis v Tonga, Rugby League World Cup, FMG Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand. Saturday, 11 November, 2017. Copyright photo: John Cowpland / www.photosport.nz
Tonga's Andrew Fifita and Tevita Pangai Junior celebrate Rugby League World Cup win over the Kiwis at FMG Stadium in Hamilton. Source: Photosport


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Sam Burgess cleared of wrongdoing in Rabbitohs sexting scandal

South Sydney star Sam Burgess has been cleared of any wrongdoing over the lewd photo scandal after the NRL club completed its investigations.

The club said no player had broken club or NRL rules after a complaint was made by a woman alleging Rabbitohs players exposed themselves to her on Facebook in May.

The woman was interviewed by NRL integrity unit investigator Karyn Murphy but declined to be quizzed by a five-person panel set up by the club last Friday.

"Based on a thorough review of the available evidence before it, the panel was not satisfied that any South Sydney player engaged in any actionable misconduct resulting in a breach of their NRL playing contract, the NRL rules or the SSFC code of conduct," the club said in a statement.

A spokesman for the NRL said that, based on the information available, the NRL was satisfied with the position the panel has reached with respect to the allegations against players.

"If any additional information emerges it will be considered," the spokesman said.

It was widely reported that it was Burgess' social media account that was used to communicate with the woman.

Two players were believed to have exposed themselves to the woman, who complained to the club via an anonymous email over a period of three months between May and August.

The matter rocked the league last week when News Corp Australia published the images, and named Burgess as the owner of the social media account.

The incident overshadowed the Rabbitohs' semi-final win over St George Illawarra, and dominated headlines ahead of Saturday's grand final qualifier against the Sydney Roosters.

An emotional Burgess also fronted the media this week, where he thanked his wife and family for their support and said he was "happy for the truth to come out".

The panel included ARL Commissioner Lea Drake, club chairman Nick Pappas, club staffer Emily Grant, chief executive Blake Solly, and Murphy.

Sam Burgess of the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Source: Photosport


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'I think my parents are secret Broncos fans' - Rona Peters ready for sibling clash against Warriors women

Taking on two siblings and a sister-in-law will be tough enough for Kiwi-born Brisbane star Rona Peters in tonight's NRL Women's Premiership crunch clash with New Zealand's Warriors.

But it won't be as hard as what comes afterwards - telling her passionate Kiwi parents that she will pledge her allegiance to Australia.

Former Kiwi Ferns veteran Peters admitted to mixed feelings before lining up against sisters Hilda and Kahurangi as well as sister-in-law Laura Mariu at AAMI Park.

Warriors playmaker Mariu married Hilda earlier this year.

Another victory will guarantee Brisbane, the only undefeated team, a spot in next week's inaugural NRLW grand final - and knock her siblings' Warriors out of the title race.

"It's the first time I have played my sisters on such a big stage," said Peters.

Laura and Hilda Mariu spoke to Te Karere about their relationship and how they got into a physical altercation on the rugby league pitch. Source: Te Karere

"But what happens on the field, stays on the field. That's how I have to look at it.

"Besides I think my parents are secret Broncos fans."

Peters admitted she may not be as popular with her parents after she tells them her Test plans.

After representing the Kiwi Ferns over 12 years, Peters relocated to Queensland in 2015 and when signatures were called for the inaugural NRLW she pledged her allegiance to Brisbane and the Maroons.

Now the Broncos lock hopes to run out for the Jillaroos in their October 13 Test against her ex-team New Zealand in Auckland.

"It's a hard question but I will probably stay with the Jillaroos as much as I love my family," Peters said.

The Warriors bench celebrate as the final whistle sounds and the Warriors win. Roosters v Warriors, NRL Holden Women's Premiership.  ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia. 8th Sept 2018. Copyright Photo: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz
The Warriors bench celebrate as the final whistle sounds and the Warriors win over the Sydney Roosters. Source: Photosport

Asked how that will go down when she tells her parents, Peters said: "Probably not how I want it but my family are proud footy people so they will be happy with whatever jersey I wear."

Rona Peters during the Jillaroos v Kiwi Ferns, Brisbane ,Australia on May 3, 2015. Copyright Photo: Patrick Hamilton/ www.Photosport.co.nz
Kiwi Ferns player Rona Peters in action against the Jilaroos in Brisbane. Source: Photosport