Rugby League: Kangaroos test the biggest in Tongan history - Siliva Havili

Tonga's upcoming rugby league international against Australia is the biggest game in the country's history, according to senior player Siliva Havili.

The former Warriors hooker played a key role in the Mate Ma'a progressing through to a World Cup semi-final last year, beating the Kiwis in Hamilton on the way.

The Tongans arrived in New Zealand 10 days before their historic test with the Kangaroos in Auckland next week and will be interested spectators when the Kiwis host Australia on Saturday night.

Havili said the preparation time is key, given the high stakes that await his side when they face the green-and-golds at Mt Smart Stadium.

"This is probably the biggest game in our wee little country's history, going up against the world champions," Havili said.

"We need all the time we can get to prepare the best we can - hopefully having these 10 days in camp will pay off.

"The more time we spend together, the more comfortable we get with our teammates and develop that trust, which we hope will lead to a good performance."

Tonga have based themselves in Hamilton for the match preparation, rekindling the fantastic memories of the 2017 World Cup.

Despite a heartbreaking loss to England at Waikato Stadium, which signalled the end of their campaign, the 28-22 win over New Zealand at the same venue represented the greatest moment in the Pacific Island's rugby league history - arguably the greatest moment in Tongan sport.

Havili said positive vibes of 2017 have been flowing through the camp.

"Good memories of Hamilton," Havili said. "It's good to have some time for ourselves and get away from the bright lights of Auckland.

"This is the time for us to really get away and put in the work."

The test against the Kangaroos is sold out, in stark contrast to the Kiwis fixture, which has only pre-sold 15,000 tickets.

Havili noted a lot of the seats would be filled by passionate Tongan fans, who would follow Mate Ma'a to the end of the world to watch them play.

"We are just happy to get the game, no matter where it was played," Havili said.

"There is a big fan base in this area with the Tongan community, so it's good that they will get behind us and hopefully we can do them proud.

"It just goes to show the support of our people from our little nation. We take the game anywhere and our people will make the effort to fill the stadium."


Join us at 7:30pm Saturday for live updates of the NZ Kiwis vs Australia rugby league test from Mt Smart Stadium.