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'NRL took advantage of Mate Ma'a Tonga' - Leaked report claims unfair treatment of Tongan players after historic Kangaroos Test

Tonga's league authorities are calling for fairer treatment after receiving virtually no proceeds from the historic Test against the Kangaroos in October.

The match was a sellout thanks to Tongan fans but its the NRL which have reaped the financial benefits.

Unlike the Kiwis v Kangaroos game the week before - which saw an estimated $500,000 loss - this Test match at the same Auckland venue was a sellout, with takings from twenty eight thousand Mt Smart tickets.

But because the NRL organised it, Tonga saw little of it Tonga Rugby League president Semisi Sika said.

“Once you feel you are being used and abused, that’s when things are going to start changing.”

On top of that, the TRL didn’t get VIP tickets they requested for sponsors - sponsors which keep Mate Ma’a Tonga, a struggling outfit, afloat.

Melino Maka of the Tongan Advisory Council says the NRL needs to change its attitude.

“You can see the degree of racism within the NRL and they should treat Mate M'a Tonga with respect.”

The NRL told 1 NEWS  it only made a "small profit" from the game but in a confidential independent analysis, obtained by 1 NEWS, it's estimated the match made around a million dollars after expenses.

In a statement, the NRL says many of its other international matches run at a loss including the mid-year Pacific tests, so when there’s a surplus like with Tonga this underwrites other international tournaments and events that don’t do so well.

But the leaked report also says the Tongans were treated in an unfair and likely underhand manner, warranting an inquiry.

“Tonga desperately wanted to have a match against Australia,” Maka said.

“Australia NRL took advantage of Mate Ma’a Tonga.”

The Kangaroos players were paid a $5,000 match fee each - that is a quarter what they usually earn but Mate Ma’a Tonga only got $3,000, leaving it to their government to top it up.

Tonga says it is grateful for the opportunity - and there's no denying its brought pride to the Kingdom but the cash-strapped island league team wants fairness.


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