June 22, 2022
Head coach Ricky Henry has named four Kiwi Fern debutantes to line up against Tonga this Saturday at Mount Smart Stadium (3:10 pm kick-off) NZT.
Amy Turner (Broncos) and Page McGregor (Dragons) will debut in the centres, while Bronco powerhouse Roxy Murdoch gets her call up to the Ferns’ second-row.
2022 NZRL Sky Sport Women’s Premiership MVP Laishon Albert-Jones will debut in the halves alongside Kiwi Fern veteran and Roosters Premiership winner Raecene McGregor.
Manurewa Marlin junior Krystal Rota earns her second Test captaincy for the Kiwi Ferns, while Titan’s lock Georgia Hale joins Raecene as vice-captain forming a strong leadership spine for the relatively young team.
Māori All-Stars and Premiership-winning Rooster Mya Hill-Moana earns her second Test appearance as prop alongside newly signed Bronco and front-row standout Annetta Nu’uausala.
Madison Bartlett is named on the wing following her top try scoring efforts for St. George Illawarra this season, and Kiwi Fern veteran and newly signed Bronco hooker Nita Maynard re-claims her place in the squad after missing the 2020 Test due to being based in Australia.
“We have exciting new talent who all deserve this opportunity, and they’re gelling well with our leadership spine and more experienced names,” said Head Coach Ricky Henry.
“It’s extremely special to see Kiwi Ferns debut for their country as we all know what a representative honour means to any player, especially at the highest level.
“After a two-year hiatus, everyone is excited to get back out there in front of whānau and friends against a tough Tonga team who will be out for victory. I’m looking forward to seeing the Ferns give it their all Saturday.”
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Please click here for tickets to Kiwi Ferns v MMT on June 25 at Mount Smart Stadium.
KIWI FERNS v TONGA
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
3.10pm, Saturday, June 25, 202
June 22, 2022
Four players are set for their Test debuts when the Kiwis face Mate Ma’a Tonga in New Zealand’s first international in more than two and a half years at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday night.
Of the eight new faces included in the wider squad this week, Parramatta duo Dylan Brown and Marata Niukore plus Cronulla Sutherland winger Ronaldo Mulitalo and Penrith prop Moses Leota will all play their first Test for the Kiwis.
Brown is paired in the halves with outstanding Melbourne halfback Jahrome Hughes while Niukore is named in the centres with the experienced Peta Hiku and Leota is on a potent bench.
In other selection features head coach Michael Maguire has selected the versatile Joseph Manu at fullback while in-form Parramatta second rower Isaiah Papali’i, who made his debut off the bench for the Kiwis in England 2018, is a starter in his second Test more than three and half years later.
Included on the interchange is 31-yeard-old Manly Warringah half Kieran Foran who makes another international comeback after overcoming adversity.
His return from a two-year absence in 2019 was cruelly ended by a dislocated shoulder just six minutes into the Kiwis’ first Test against Great Britain at Eden Park.
“It’s an exciting time for everyone involved having international rugby league back on deck after so long,” said Maguire.
“There’s a real buzz among the players for what is such a significant occasion for the Kiwi jersey and for the game as a whole.
“We’ve been able to bring together a group of players who have been in tremendous form so far this season and they’re desperate to do well for their country.
“It’s a special thrill giving debuts to Dylan, Marata, Ronaldo and Moses. They really deserve this opportunity.”
Newly-appointed captain Jesse Bromwich is the team’s most experienced player as he eyes his 30th Test match while Foran will play his 23rd since his debut in 2009.
Please click here for tickets to Kiwis v MMT on June 25 at Mount Smart Stadium.
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS v MATE M’A TONGA
5.20pm, Saturday, June 25, 2022
May 25, 2022
Former New South Wales Women’s Origin assistant Milton Dymock has been appointed Head Coach of the Mate Ma’a Tonga Women’s side. He is partnered by former NRL and Mate Ma’a Tonga players Jim Dymock and Andrew Emelio.
Milton Dymock is a well-regarded coach and has plenty of experience in the women’s game. He served as an assistant for the NSW Women’s Origin side in 2019 and 2020 helping them to a victory in his first year. Milton has also coached in the Tarsha Gale Cup as South’s Head Coach from 2017 to 2018 and as an assistant in 2019 for the Sydney Roosters. Dymock has coached the NSW Tongan juniors since 2006 whilst also being appointed by many clubs to assist in defensive training, notably the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and St Helens.
Milton is joined by assistant coaches, brother Jim Dymock and former Tongan representative Andrew Emelio, who are respected in the modern game.
Jim Dymock has represented Mate Ma’a Tonga as a player (1994-95) and a coach (2006-08) and played 200 games in the NRL and 95 in the Super League. Dymock has also served as Head Coach for the Bulldogs (2011) and an assistant coach at the Roosters, Sharks, and aforementioned Bulldogs. He is currently working as the assistant coach of the Gold Coast Titans.
Emelio also enjoyed success professionally, representing Tonga six times and playing 53 games between the NRL and Super League. Emelio represented Mate Ma’a Tonga in the 2008 World Cup Squad and brings valuable experience to the Mate Ma’a Tonga Women’s backline.
Dymock spoke on his newly appointed role, “I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in the Women’s game for a few years, and I am truly honoured to be a part of this Women’s Mate Ma’a Tonga side. We have a talented side and staff, and we hope to pass on our experience to make this campaign memorable.”
Also involved in the coaching staff is Dion Briggs, who led the women’s side as they ran out 66-8 winners over Niue in 2020. Briggs brings experience and rapport with the New Zealand based players and adds valuable insight and direction to the women’s outfit.
Briggs had this to say, “It is an excellent opportunity for Tongan players based in Aotearoa to showcase their talent on the big stage. It doesn’t get much bigger than a game against the Kiwi Ferns.”
“I am looking forward to this campaign and believe we are setting a strong foundation moving ahead to the 2025 Rugby League World Cup.”
The Tongan women last played in their 2020 test against Niue and have not run out against the Kiwi Ferns since 2008, where they were defeated 42-4 by the eventual World Champions.
The Mate Ma’a Tonga Women’s team will be selected from the best available players across Australia and New Zealand, kickstarting their campaign towards a 2025 world cup appearance.
Tickets to see Mate Ma’a Tonga Women take on the New Zealand Kiwi Ferns are available from TicketMaster. Watch all the action live from Mt Smart Stadium or on Sky Sport in a matchup worthy of the wait!
7 November 2020
Mt Smart hosted its first game of the calendar year as Niue Rugby League and Hakula Tonga went head to head as part of NZRL’s Clash of the Pacific Women’s Double Header.
It didn’t take long for Tonga to break the deadlock as number 23 Alice Vailea took advantage of a great first set to bundle over from dummy half. Tonga took a 4-0 lead early as the conversion was unsuccessful.
Four minutes later Mele Hufanga doubled the lead beating two defenders on her way to the line. Hufanga converting her own score to make it 10-0.
Tongan fullback Malie Taulaga sliced her way through to score her first of the afternoon, as the Hakula woman begin to show their dominance. 14-0 after 11 minutes.
Manutala’aho Huni grabbed her first, crashing over after a superb offload from Taulaga put her in open space. Hufanga added the extras to make the lead 20-0 after 16 minutes.
A Niue mistake close to the line was again made to pay as Tongan captain Lilieta Mamau-Pinomi bulldozed her way over the line. Hufanga added the conversion to take the lead to 26-0 after 22 minutes.
From the kickoff set, winger Sarah Filimoe’atu finished off a clinical move from their own half, going 50 metres to score under the post. Hufanga converts. 32-0 with 15 minutes remaining in the first stanza.
Nancy Sikei Mafile’o then went over for her first of the afternoon. Conversion successful as Tonga lead 38-0.
Niue received their first penalty and did not fail to convert that into points as Niue captain Bobbie Kamutoa fought her way over the line. Conversion unsuccessful as the score remained 38-4.
Both teams went into the sheds at half time, Tonga leading Niue 38 points to four.
After a battling eight minutes, it was Niue who capitalised first as Holly Hiko received a lovely cut out pass to go over for the first try of the second period. Niue again unable to kick the conversion attempt as they stay on eight points.
Danger woman Mele Hufanga again weaved her way out of trouble, and went on a scintillating 80 metre effort, crushing any sort of comeback from the Niuean side. She was unable to convert her second try. Tonga lead 42-8 after 56 minutes.
A minute later Nancy Sikei Mafile’o scored her second of the game as Hakula woman broaden the lead further. Hufanga converts from right in front as Tonga create a 40-point buffer. 48-8.
A left foot-step by the Tongan number 1 put her right through as Taulaga added another try of her own. Hufanga converted to widen the gap to 54 points to eight.
The number 21, Mele Hufanga achieved her hat trick with 12 minutes to go, again showing her rampant strength and footwork. She converted from in front to take the lead to 60 points to eight.
With 7 minutes remaining, Hakula winger Sarah Filimoe’atu grabbed her second in similar vein as her first, breaking the line and going 50 metres to score under the post, Hufanga again converted to make the lead 66-8.
A late red card seemed consolation for Niue as Tonga go out 66-8 winners in what was an exciting and quality way to usher International Rugby League back.