Last week's World Cup Nines performance left a sour taste in the mouths of Tonga's senior players, but their failure to advance from the group stage wasn't without its positives.
Teenage sensation Tesi Niu had a terrific tournament highlighted by a try against Samoa at Sydney's Bankwest Stadium, and despite not having played an NRL game, he found himself thrust into the Tonga Invitational XIII side for the match against Great Britain in Hamilton.
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A product of the Brisbane Broncos system, Niu was told on Thursday that he'd play after Ata Hingano was ruled out through injury.
And he did himself proud running for 182 metres as Mate Ma'a claimed a famous 14-6 win.
Tonga coach Kristian Woolf revealed the senior players had offered to pay for his flights to New Zealand following his efforts at the Nines, and their faith was repaid as he turned in a performance he and his teammates will never forget.
"He's only just turned 18, he hasn't played first grade yet, and we only brought him into camp late because of his performance at the Nines," said Woolf.
"All the senior players wanted to bring him in because they were impressed with him as a bloke and impressed with him as a player.
"I don't think he came away thinking he'd ever play, but he was outstanding tonight. He's certainly shown that he's going to play a lot of NRL very soon and he's going to play a lot more for us."
It's unclear whether he'll be selected to take on Australia in Auckland next week given Hingano, Kotoni Staggs, Tevita Pangai and Joe Ofahengaue are all available, but one man who'll definitely be there is playmaker Tui Lolohea.
The talented half has struggled for consistency over the years but appears to have found his groove after helping steer Salford to the Super League Grand Final.
"Tui deserves a real rap," Woolf said.
"He's come in really fit, he's come in with some confidence on the back of what he's done in the Super League, and I thought we was the really dominant half for us tonight and had some really big plays."
While they'll need to step up several gears if they want to match it with the Kangaroos, skipper Siosiua Taukeiaho says he has belief after the senior players rallied from their early exit at the Nines.
"It was a disappointing Nines comp, but I think the senior boys came in and they knew their standards were a bit down so for them it was about coming back into the group and lifting their intensity. I thought they played a big role in tonight's game," he said.
Join us next Saturday for live updates of the Tonga v Australia rugby league test.