Tonga Invitational v Great Britain: Late changes for Tonga

Tonga have never faced Great Britain in 83 international matches since 1986 so Wayne Bennett's Lions are in for a treat performing before the singing, flag-waving faithful from the Pacific kingdom.

Tonga have played England twice, most recently in the semi-finals of the 2017 World Cup. That means familiar faces like John Bateman, Ryan Hall, James Graham, Josh Hodgson, Elliott Whitehead, Jermaine McGillvary and Gareth Widdop won't make this contest feel too strange.

After months of off-field upheaval the Tonga Invitational side will be hoping to improve on their most recent outing, a loss to the Kiwis in June.

Match: Tonga Invitational v Great Britain

Round 2 -

Full Time
Tonga Invitational

Home Team

Tonga Invitational

Scored 14 points
Great Britain

Away Team

Great Britain

Scored 6 points

Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton

Match broadcasters:

  • Foxtel
  • LIVE PASS

The Rundown

Team news

The Lions are 1-17 but Tonga have made some late changes. Andrew Fifita will start the game from the bench, switching with Addin Fonua-Blake. Broncos centre Kotoni Staggs is out with Konrad Hurrell replacing him in the starting side. And Ata Hingano was also omitted in the final team submitted an hour before kick-off with Fanitesi Niu to make his Test debut at halfback.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Tonga Invitational is number 1 Will Hopoate
    Fullback for Great Britain is number 1 Lachlan Coote
  • Winger for Tonga Invitational is number 2 David Fusitu'a
    Winger for Great Britain is number 2 Jermaine McGillvary
  • Centre for Tonga Invitational is number 3 Michael Jennings
    Centre for Great Britain is number 3 Zak Hardaker
  • Centre for Tonga Invitational is number 19 Konrad Hurrell
    Centre for Great Britain is number 4 Oliver Gildart
  • Winger for Tonga Invitational is number 5 Daniel Tupou
    Winger for Great Britain is number 5 Ryan Hall
  • Five-Eighth for Tonga Invitational is number 6 Tuimoala Lolohea
    Five-Eighth for Great Britain is number 6 Gareth Widdop
  • Halfback for Tonga Invitational is number 20 Tesi Niu
    Halfback for Great Britain is number 7 Jackson Hastings

Forwards

  • Prop for Tonga Invitational is number 15 Addin Fonua-Blake
    Prop for Great Britain is number 8 Chris Hill
  • Hooker for Tonga Invitational is number 9 Siliva Havili
    Hooker for Great Britain is number 9 Josh Hodgson
  • Prop for Tonga Invitational is number 10 Siosiua Taukeiaho
    Prop for Great Britain is number 10 Luke Thompson
  • 2nd Row for Tonga Invitational is number 11 Ben Murdoch-Masila
    2nd Row for Great Britain is number 11 John Bateman
  • 2nd Row for Tonga Invitational is number 12 Manu Ma'u
    2nd Row for Great Britain is number 12 Elliott Whitehead
  • Lock for Tonga Invitational is number 13 Jason Taumalolo
    Lock for Great Britain is number 13 James Graham

Interchange

  • Interchange for Tonga Invitational is number 8 Andrew Fifita
    Interchange for Great Britain is number 14 Josh Jones
  • Interchange for Tonga Invitational is number 14 Sione Katoa
    Interchange for Great Britain is number 15 Thomas Burgess
  • Interchange for Tonga Invitational is number 16 John Asiata
    Interchange for Great Britain is number 16 Jonny Lomax
  • Interchange for Tonga Invitational is number 17 Sitili Tupouniua
    Interchange for Great Britain is number 17 Alex Walmsley

Key match-up

Jackson Hastings has been picked at halfback in a controversial selection for the Lions alongside Dragons veteran Gareth Widdop. They'll be up against the new combo of Tuimoala Lolohea and Fanitesi Niu. Lolohea, who plays for Salford in the Super League, needs to fire for the men in red to win.

For Tonga to win 

The focus often surrounds forwards like Andrew Fifita, Jason Taumalolo and Tevita Pangai jnr, but Will Hopoate could be the game-changer at fullback. He won the Bulldogs player of the year award, and then was named in the RLPA's "Dream Team 13" for 2019. He was vital in the 2017 World Cup run and from the nine matches he's played for Tonga, he's won six. Excels in attack and defence and provides a reassuring voice from the back of the field. 

For Great Britain to win

The Canberra Raiders core of the Lions might still be smarting over the NRL grand final loss and could help them here. Don't forget James Graham and Gareth Widdop didn't have such a great time with the Dragons this season, so there could be some pent-up emotion there too. The Tongan forwards are big men but the Lions have plenty of experience and cunning.

Stat attack

Daniel Tupou is Tonga's most capped player with 12 Tests, but he's got a few on his heels with four players in double-figures (Siliva Havili, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Michael Jennings, Lolohea) and two playing their 10th in this match (Manu Ma'u and SioSiua Taukeiaho).

And another thing...

Wayne Bennett has won 10 of his 15 Tests as England coach but this will be his first being in charge of Great Britain.