Mate Maʻa Tonga must perform their best

The message is simple and clear but the task is huge, as Tongan saying, “ʻOku ʻeiki e fatongiá”, meaning that the assigned task is nobler than the bearer. Mate Maʻa Tonga has to perform their best against other tough opponents now and then to really make it for a title shot with whoever team that needs to claim the best of the best. Mate Maʻa Tonga team holds high expectation but it’s hard to really rely on that because of the team history of not living up with the expectation.

Mate Maʻa Tonga seems to only play well when they are influenced by an unknown force. They are able to play exceptionally well or below expectation. Anyway, the Head Coach, Charles Tonga and the management team believe that this team is unstoppable. After two months of practising and preparing the spirit among the team members are building up from strength after strength and appeared to solidify the individual personal beliefs and trust in each other.

In 2008, the coach Charles Tonga recalled, him and his mates drove all the way from Brisbane to Sydney to support Mate Maʻa Tonga in one of the well-remembered game of that Rugby League World Cup, although Mate Maʻa Tonga went down to Samoa 20 – 12. Since then, he could not believe that he is going to coach his national team at this RLWC.

"I drove all the way to Sydney with my mates. I was standing in this corner just being a spectator, just watching the game," he says, while gazing out over Penrith's headquarters in Sydney's west.

"I had no idea I'd be coaching my nation at the next one."

Tonga was in the coaching box to witness one of Tongan rugby league's greatest moments, and he has been back in Penrith over the past month preparing his side for this month's World Cup, in the UK, Ireland and France.

He was initially reluctant to succeed Jim Dymock as national coach, even though he maintained a strong affinity with his home, despite immigrating to Australia as a baby.

The relationship between the coach, Tonga, and the Mate Maʻa Tonga started immediately after the 2008 World Cup. He helped to develop the code and identify talented youngsters. He loved to develop talented individuals and equip them with alternatives in order to maintain their goal and their lifestyle and also not to forget their families back home.

"The passion and the love was always there for my people, but there's always politics in the Islands, mate," he said.

"It's awesome the board have really given me trust to be able to do the work properly. That was probably the biggest thing for me."

Mate Maʻa Tonga ranked 10th in the world after 2008 RLWC. Tonga can approach their group games against Scotland, the Cook Islands and Italy with a degree of confidence after that surprising win at Centrebet Stadium on April 20. Hopefully they will qualify for the 2014 Four Nations but they have to finish as the highest-ranked Pacific Island Team.

However, the talking is over. The goal has been devised and the team has to perform accordingly and only need one step at a time. Mate Maʻa Tonga has to deal with the Scottish first before their next assignment.

For sure of course, the World Cup won't be a walk in the park. But, the team has experienced players like Brent Kite, Sika Manu, Fuifui Moimoi, Willie Manu and Mickey Paea are the veterans to complement the flair and enthusiasm of Konrad Hurrell, Glen Fisi'iahi and NRL grand final try-scorers Jorge Taufua and Daniel Tupou.

Mate Maʻa Tonga must perform against Scotland, the Scottish has proved tough and hard to go past after they upset England in their warm-up match. So, Mate Maʻa Tonga must take this opportunity to make their mark early in this competition and then gradually progress further.  

TONGAN SQUAD Sosaia Feki (Cronulla Sharks), Glen Fisi'iahi (NZ Warriors), Mahe Fonua (Melbourne Storm), Daniel Foster (Penrith Panthers), Sydney Havea (Liahona Old Boys, Tonga), Siliva Havili (Warriors), Konrad Hurrell (Warriors), Brent Kite (Manly Sea Eagles), Samsoni Langi (Sydney Roosters), Siuatonga Likiliki (Newcastle Knights), Willie Manu (St Helens), Sika Manu (Penrith), Nesiasi Mataitonga (Cronulla), Fuifui Moimoi (Parramatta Eels), Ben Murdoch-Masila (Wests Tigers), Mickey Paea (Hull KR), Patrick Politini (Cronulla), Nafe Seluini (Roosters), Ukuma Ta'ai (Huddersfield Giants), Jorge Taufua (Manly), Jason Taumololo (North Queensland Cowboys), Peni Terepo (Parramatta), Daniel Tupou (Roosters), Siosa Vave (Parramatta). 

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