The Combined Nations All Stars – a side featuring Super League players from the Pacific Islands, New Zealand and Australia – have pledged to raise funds for the Tonga tsunami appeal in a match against England.
They will wear special, commemorative jerseys, which will be sold with the proceedings going to the Tonga relief fund set up after the eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano and tsunami on January 15.
The Combined Nations All Stars beat England 26-24 in 2021 in a fundraising venture for New Zealand-born former Super League prop Mose Masoe, who suffered a career-ending spinal injury playing for Hull Kingston Rovers.
England will host another Combined Nations game in June.
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Former Junior Kiwi Carl Hall, the Combined Nations manager and chair of the Pacific Islands Rugby League Group, said the team wanted to show solidarity with the people of Tonga after their plight.
“Tonga has become such a force in rugby league in recent years with their incredible run to the semi-finals of the last World Cup in 2017. There have been so many great players of Tongan descent who have come over to play with English or French clubs,’’ Hall said on the Love Rugby League website.
“We’ve all seen the terrible and frightening scenes since the volcanic explosion; with some players anxiously awaiting news of their relatives.
“I know a lot of rugby league clubs and supporters will want to find a way of showing their solidarity with the Tongan people over the coming days, weeks and months.
Line up for our first hit out of 2022 v @MoanaPasifika_ 💥
Alongside Moana Pasifika we invite you to be part of ‘Ofa Atu Tonga' to help raise funds for those directly affected by the volcanic eruption and tsunami. Read more and donate here ➡️ https://t.co/UXsLa2zb7n pic.twitter.com/NrVUjUye4a
— Gallagher Chiefs (@ChiefsRugby) February 3, 2022
“It will be an honour and a privilege for us to do our bit when the Combined Nations All Stars come together to face England this summer.”
The Combined Nations-England game has been pencilled in for mid-June with a date and venue still to be confirmed.
Last year’s game was played at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium before a crowd of 4000.
That Combined Nations squad included Tonga-born former Warriors prop Chris Satae, who now plays for Hull FC, and Kelepi Tanginoa from Wakefield Trinity, an Australian-born ex-Eels, Manly and Cowboys forward, who has Tongan heritage.
The growing number of Tongan players in Super League includes former Warrior Konrad Hurrell and ex-Bulldogs star Will Hopoate, who play for three-time champions St Helens, who are coached by Tonga’s World Cup squad coach Kristian Woolf.