Tonga coach Kristian Woolf has denied any accusations of financial wrongdoing in regards to the finances of Tonga National Rugby League.
Woolf was sacked amid accusations from the current TNRL board that he misused team funds in a bank account.
His dismissal prompted the team’s senior players including Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita to threaten to boycott end-of-season games.
“There has been some really poor allegations made suggesting that there is something going on financially,” Woolf told Tagata Pasifika.
“I think to understand why that is a ridiculous comment is you got to understand that before anyone can access any money from an account, it needs board approval in writing.”
The Rugby League International Federation then stepped in and suspended the TNRL board, a move that saw the team’s players return for the end-of-season Tests, but as a Tongan Invitational XIII side rather than Mate Ma’a Tonga.
The team will be coached by Woolf.
TNRL secretary Willie Edwards told Tagata Pasifika they were challenging the RLIF’s suspension in court.
“It took us by surprise because we had no intention of sacking him, we had an intention of appointing the review panel which is by resolution,” Edwards said.
“It was done by the international board, basically taking governance over us, without any permission from us and they said they had the right to do so, which is what we’re challenging in court now,” Edwards told
Despite the dispute, Woolf said the players should still be supported.
“My message is very clear, support the players, it’s not about board, it’s not about coaching staff, it’s not about the IRLF or anyone else, the people that the Tongan people need to support is the players.”
The Tonga Advisory Council in Auckland claimed the naming of the invitational teams as a "slap in (the) face" that "all Tongan people will take offence to".