15 Sep 2022
NRL superstar David Fifita named in Tonga squad for RLWC2021
By Steve Mascord
GOLD Coast superstar David Fifita has been named in a Tongan extended menâ€™s World Cup squad that also includes NSW Origin players Kotoni Staggs and Daniel Tupou despite their injury concerns.
Coach Kristian Woolf and his management team unveiled the 38-strong list on Thursday, to be shaved to 24 at the end of the month.
While there were nothing like the bombshells that fell in 2017 when key players led by Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita turned their backs on Australia and New Zealand to represent the Mate Maâ€™a, the naming of Fifita will be a talking point because he is also in Australiaâ€™s train-on squad.
RLWC2021 contacted Woolf through is club St Helens to confirm it was 22-year-old centre David Fifita, not the 33-year-old Wakefield prop of the same name. Fifita is also one of 15 players named by the green-and-golds so far from clubs that have dropped out of the NRL premiership race, to train in preparation for representing the World Cup holders.
Under International Rugby League rules, if Fifita misses final selection for Australia, he can represent his tier two nation of election which is clearly Tonga.
Brisbane centre Staggs, meanwhile, reportedly needs a shoulder reconstruction while winger Tupouâ€™s recovery time for a back injury was put at six weeks from the beginning of September.
There are 13 survivors from the 2017 Mate Maâ€™a campaign that changed the face of international rugby league.
Young Dolphins signing Isaiya Katoa - formerly of Penrith - also gets recognition. Hull FCâ€™s Mahe Fonua - who finished the season with an ankle injury - and York Cityâ€™s Ata Hingano are notable omissions. Hullâ€™s Manu Maâ€™u has a broken arm
TONGA (Extended squad)
Talatau Amone (St George Illawarra)
Andrew Fifita (Cronulla)
David Fifita (Gold Coast)
Addin Fonua Blake (Warriors)
Moeaki Fotuaika (Gold Coast)
David Fusituâ€™a (Leeds)
Siliva Havili (South Sydney)
William Hopoate (St Helens)
Konrad Hurrell (St Helens)
Eliesa Katoa (Warriors)
Isaiya Katoa (Penrith)
Sione Katoa (Cronulla)
Felise Kaufusi (Melbourne)
Oregon Kaufusi (Parramatta)
Keaon Koloamatangi (South Sydney)
Tolutaâ€™u Koula (Manly)
Tuimoala Lolohea (Huddersfield)
Soni Luke (Penrith)
Ben Murdoch Masila (Warriors)
Tesi Niu (Brisbane)
Joe â€˜Ofahengaue (Brisbane)
Haumole Olakauâ€™atu (Manly)
Taniela Otukolo (Warriors)
Agnatius Paasi (St Helens)
Tevita Pangai Jr (Canterbury)
Taniela Paseka (Manly)
Will Penisini (Parramatta)
Kotoni Staggs (Brisbane)
Daniel Suluka Fifita (South Sydney)
Moses Suli (St George Illawarra)
Siosifa Talakai (Cronulla)
Tevita Tatola (South Sydney)
Siosifa Taukeiâ€™aho (Sydney Roosters)
Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland)
Starford Toâ€™a (Wests Tigers)
Christian Tuâ€™ipulotu (Manly)
Daniel Tupou (Sydney Roosters)
Stefano Utoikamanu (Wests Tigers)
See Tonga play Wales, Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea at RLWC2021 â€“ buy your tickets today at rlwc2021.com/tickets