David Fifita will play for Tonga at the World Cup if overlooked by Australia after being named in the Pacific giant’s big-name NRL squad.
Fifita on Friday headlined a squad arguably stronger than the one that made the semi-finals in 2017, with 28 regular NRL starters in the extended 38-man squad.
Included in the list are the likes of Fifita, Addin Fonua-Blake, Felise Kaufusi, Haumole ‘Olakau’atu, Tevita Pangai, Kotoni Staggs, Siosifa Talakai, Jason Taumalolo and Daniel Tupou.
The halves still remain the biggest issue with Staggs, Talatau Amone and Tuimoala Lolohea the most likely options.
Coach Kristian Woolf will cut the squad down to 24 before the beginning of the tournament.
Fifita, however, would be a massive inclusion.
The Queensland State of Origin star is yet to confirm his preference for this year’s tournament, with the COVID-19 pandemic meaning he has never played a senior Test match.
Tonga were semi-finalists in 2017 when Andrew Fifita and Jason Taumalolo led the Pacific revolution, before beating Australia in the Kangaroos most recent Test in 2019.
Tonga’s group includes Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands and Wales, with the team that tops the pool set to play the second-ranked side of England and Samoa’s group in the quarter-finals.
TONGA SQUAD: Talatau ‘Amone, Andrew Fifita, David Fifita, Addin Fonua-Blake, Moeaki Fotuaika, David Fusitu’a, Siliva Havili, William Hopoate, Konrad Hurrell, Eliesa Katoa, Isaiya Katoa, Sione Katoa, Felise Kaufusi, Oregon Kaufusi, Keaon Koloamatangi, Toluta’u Koula, Tuimoala Lolohea, Soni Luke, Ben Murdoch Masila, Tesi Niu, Joe ‘Ofahengaue, Haumole ‘Olakau’atu, Taniela ‘Otukolo, Agnatius Paasi, Tevita Pangai Jr, Taniela Paseka, Will Penisini, Kotoni Staggs, Daniel Suluka Fifita, Moses Suli, Siosifa Talakai, Tevita Tatola, Siosiua Taukei’aho, Jason Taumalolo, Starford To’a, Christian Tu’ipulotu, Daniel Tupou, Stefano Utoikamanu.