The Kangaroos and Mate Ma'a Tonga rugby league Test is finally happening, with Tongan star Manu Vatuvei crediting teammates Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita for sparking the conversation.
Vatuvei said Taumalolo, Fifita and other players' decision to stay with Tonga after their success at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, played a big part in having a Test confirmed against Australia next month.
"It was a massive sacrifice from them, it meant a lot more for them to go represent their country (Tonga)," said Vatuvei.
"It played a big part in this match."
Taumalolo and Fifita caused a massive stir before the RLWC, when they defected from New Zealand and Australia and opted to play for Tonga in the tournament.
The Kiwis lost more players to Tonga with Parramatta second rower Manu Ma'u, Warriors utility back David Fusitu'a and Roosters front rower Sio Siua Taukeiaho confirming in October last year to play for the Pacific nation.
"I reckon after what we did in the World Cup, (we) definitely deserve to play tier one teams."
Australia are set to play Tonga on October 20 at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland, the NZRL also confirmed today that the Kiwis will face Tonga next year in June.
Vatuvei says next month's Test agains the Kangaroos is a big plus for neighbouring countries Samoa and Fiji as well.
"It's not only for Tonga but I reckon for other Pacific Island teams too.
"It will also be a massive opportunity to grow the game and to give fans what they want."
Tonga defeated the Kiwis in pool play at the RLWC and were knocked out of the tournament after they went down 20-18 at Mount Smart in Auckland against England in the semi-final.
"I've played for the Kiwis it's a really good feeling but playing for your own country (Tonga) it takes it up to another level."
Vatuvei says the match will open doors for future players to choose to play for Tonga and other Pacific nations.
"Back then it was only deciding whether you are going to play for Australia or New Zealand, so right now they can decide to play for Australia, New Zealand or their home country.
"That is a massive positive for them and hopefully that will keep the game growing. You'll see a bit more talent in all the squads."