'The hard work's paying off' – former teammate blown away by Atu Moli's World Cup call-up

All Blacks prop Atu Moli's selection for the Rugby World Cup is just reward after years of work, according to former teammate and now Tonga front rower Ben Tameifuna.

Moli, 24, was a notable inclusion in yesterday's squad announcement, taking the place of 108-Test veteran Owen Franks in Steve Hansen's 31-man group, now likely to add to his two-Test caps.

With the All Blacks to face Tonga as their final Test before the Rugby World Cup, Moli could find himself up against his former Waikato teammate, Tameifuna.

Speaking to 1 NEWS today, 27-year old Tameifuna opened up about his pride in seeing Moli's rise from rookie to World Cup squad member.

"I'm stoked for him," Tameifuna said.

"He's come a long way, he obviously broke his leg when I went to France in 2015.

"Congratulations to him, he's worked hard to get back to where he is now. Obviously the hard work's paying off.

"I'm proud of him."

Moli and Tameifuna could come face to face at scrum time when the All Blacks host Tonga in Hamilton on September 7.

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Tonga’s Ben Tameifuna praised Moli's resilience after sealing his ticket to Japan. Source: 1 NEWS