Formed to take part in the 1986 Pacific Cup, Tonga have made huge inroads in recent years. The Tongans have competed at five World Cups – 2021 will be their sixth – and achieved their best-ever result of getting to the semi-finals in 2017, only narrowly missing out to England for a place in the final by 18-20 after beating New Zealand 28-22.
Tonga have won two Pacific Cups (1994 and 2006), but that pales into insignificance when considering that Tonga became the first nation in 41 years – other than New Zealand – to beat Australia in November 2019. A 16-12 victory, straight from the heart made it three wins from three over Tier One nations (Tonga had beaten Great Britain 14-6 the week before).
The attraction of Tonga as a force in world Rugby League has led to a number of high-profile ‘switching’ of allegiances, including the likes of Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita which has helped raise the tiny Pacific island nation’s profile even further.
And, they will be hunting a top three international ranking as the 2021 World Cup creeps nearer.