Tonga rugby

Nasi Manu recovery on track for England opener

Manu was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year and missed the entire 2018 season as he underwent treatment.

He was then named 'Ikale Tahi captain for this year's Pacific Nations Cup, but had to withdraw from the campaign just before it kicked off because of a pectoral injury.

"He's been fantastic in the way that he has really worked hard to get back and all bearing well he is looking good and [hopefully] he will be up for selection against England but only time will tell," Alatini said.

Tonga in good shape for World Cup

The 'Ikale Tahi could only manage one win over Canada in the last of their three games at the recent Pacific Nations Cup but have three more warm up matches before the world showcase.

Kefu said after a month of training and touring together his players were in good shape.

"We've made some big shifts in terms of weight loss and body fat loss. We also made some huge shifts in terms of intensive running," Kefu said.

"It was important that we get a win considering the last four weeks of training have been pretty tough on the boys."

Fifita, Woolf divided on late call

After the ball came loose and Fifita regathered to score what would have been the winning try on the final play of the game, referee Matt Cecchin ruled the NSW enforcer had knocked on rather than had the ball stripped by Elliott Whitehead in the lead up.

Further evidence suggests the call was correct, and post-match Fifita was quick to move past the issue, linking it to his stunning try in the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final where, on that occasion, luck favoured him.

"Look, that's football," Fifita said.

Taumalolo inspires trouncing

All the talk about the ex-New Zealand lock's controversial defection did not prove a distraction as Tonga cruised to a 50-4 win over Scotland in their Rugby League World Cup opener.

Taumalolo came up with the most runs (18) for his team, eating up 197 metres, making 19 tackles, and a line break in his 57 minutes on the field.

Tonga threatened to hammer the record books as much as the Bravehearts in their nine tries to one rout in front of 9216 fans.

Parramatta flyer Michael Jennings bagged a first half hat-trick, equalling the most in a Cup match by a Tongan.

Taumalolo fired up for Tonga

The 24-year-old was named North Queensland's player of the year at the weekend, an honour that capped off a difficult week after he controversially turned his back on the Kiwis to play for Tonga at the looming tournament.

Taumalolo has had a hectic season but is adamant he still has the energy for test rugby league at the highest level and will do everything he can to help Tonga.

"I go into camp next week and I'm looking forward to another chapter in my international career. It should be an exciting World Cup," Taumalolo told the Townsville Bulletin.

More Pacific rugby tests backed to close the gap

From 2020, there will be a big increase in matches between top and second-tier nations, including a commitment from England and France to play in the Pacific.

Southern Hemisphere teams have committed to hosting tier-two teams in the new July test window, while Six Nations sides have guaranteed to host a minimum of six matches against second-tier teams in November.

Tonga head coach Toutai Kefu said more test matches against tier one nations can only be good for Pacific Island countries.

Fiji Warriors look to seal title defence

The hosts have maximum points after beating Tonga A and Junior Japan, and face Samoa A in today's final round-robin clash in Suva.

Tonga and Japan square off in the early match, with both teams needing to win big to draw level with Fiji on ten points.

They also need Samoa A to knock off the defending champions and deny them a bonus point.

Warriors coach Senirusi Seruvakula said they would not be letting up.

"We want to finish the competition on a high note and we're taking this game against Samoa very seriously."

More tests, money needed to boost Pacific league teams

The Mate Ma'a will take on Fiji in May's Pacific Test, which has been boosted by the inclusion of England and the Cook Islands.

Woolf was excited by the growth of the international weekend.

"It's great to see that it's expanding and really good to see the Cook Islands involved - they've certainly deserved that for a while I think," he said.

"They were really competitive at the last World Cup and they were really hard for us to beat not that long ago in a World Cup qualifier as well.