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|15||T. P. Junior|
In their first-ever clash with Australia, will Tonga prove themselves worthy of a tier-one status or will the challenge prove too difficult? Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting at 5:45pm (AEST).
While Mate Ma’a appear to only getting better, last week’s 26-24 loss to New Zealand has seen many question whether the Kangaroos are set for a steady decline on the international stage.
It was their first game without key quartet Billy Slater, Jonathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith and the Australians appeared to lack any real direction or game plan outside of giving early ball to Latrell Mitchell.
In saying that, the Kangaroos were dominated up front with David Klemmer offering the most impact despite only playing half of the game.
And their big men will have an even greater challenge this week against the ferocious Tongan pack led by outspoken Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita.
Passion is something Mate Ma’a won’t be lacking on Saturday night as they finally get their chance to prove themselves on the international stage against the Kangaroos.
Tonga almost qualified for an unlikely World Cup final against the Australians last year, only to suffer a two-point loss to England in the semi-finals.
With Jason Taumalolo, Siosiua Taukeiaho, Addin Fonua-Blake and Tevita Pangai Junior joining Andrew Fifita up front, the Kangaroos appear vulnerable through the middle.
However, it will be interesting to see if inexperienced halves pairing Tui Lolohea and Ata Hingano will be able to take opportunities when they come.
Despite having the advantage up front, Tonga’s spine has nowhere near the talent or experience that the Kangaroos have.
Australia by eight.
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting at 5:45pm (AEST).
Kick-off: 5:45pm (AEDT)
Venue: Mt. Smart Stadium
TV: Live, Nine Network, Fox League
Online: 9Now, Foxtel Go, Foxtel Now
Betting: Australia $1.30, Tonga $3.55
Overall record: Never played before
Referee: Gerard Sutton
1. James Tedesco 2. Dane Gagai 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Tom Trbojevic 5. Valentine Holmes 6. Luke Keary 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. David Klemmer 9. Damien Cook 10. Jordan McLean 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Felise Kaufusi 13. Josh Mcguire 14. Ben Hunt 15. Jake Trbojevic 16. Tyson Frizell 17. Aaron Woods 18. Tyrone Peachey 19. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
1. William Hopoate 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Michael Jennings 4. Solomone Kata 5. David Fusitua 6. Tuimoala Lolohea 7. Ata Hingano 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Siliva Havili 10. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 11. Tevita Pangai Junior 12. Sika Manu 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Sione Katoa 15. Addin Fonua-blake 16. Joe Ofahengaue 17. Peni Terepo 18. Konrad Hurrell 19. Leivaha Pulu 20. Robert Jennings 21. Ben Murdoch-Masila