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Mate Ma'a Tonga stars want to play for NZ, Australia again after board dispute

Tonga's elite players are locked in a dispute with their country's rugby league board with claims the nation's unhappy stars are ready to return to Australia and New Zealand.

A revelation in international football over the past two seasons, Tonga have reinvigorated Test football after the likes of Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita switched allegiance from New Zealand and Australia respectively.

However players are believed to be frustrated by uncertainty over the future of coach Kristan Woolf ahead of the World Nines and end-of-year Tests against Australia and Great Britain.

Former NRL player John Hopoate, the father of Tonga captain Will, took to social media on Thursday to claim players wanted an AGM to vote the current board out.

Otherwise he claimed players were ready to boycott the end-of-year matches and return to representing the top-tier nations.

"If this interim board think they can come in and do this after all the hard work we have done to get the players to play for Tonga and to stay loyal to us they got another thing coming," Hopoate posted on Facebook.

"Just finished speaking with the players and they are all getting letters done up now.

"But if this board is still the board during the 9s and the 2 test at the end of the year ... as a spokesman for the players we will NOT be taking part in any of the games.

"They are talking about going back to Australia and NZ too."

The Rugby League Players' Association are aware of the situation and are offering players support through Clint Newton.

Fifita was in Tonga last week for a family funeral, and local reports have emerged he'd sought help from the country's Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva to resolve the impasse.

Fifita played seven Tests for Australia before moving to the Mate Ma'a, while Taumalolo was one of New Zealand's biggest stars when he switched.

David Fusitu'a, Daniel Tupou, Addin Fonua-Blake and Sio Siua Taukeiaho each represented New Zealand before playing for Tonga.

Brisbane forward Tevita Pangai Jnr also nominated the Pacific Island nation as his preference above Australia and NSW this year.

Jason Taumalolo leads Tonga's Sipi Tau Source: Photosport


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