Fifita To Represent Tonga In RLWC
In a move which will have huge ramifications for the Rugby League World Cup, NSW VB Blues player Andrew Fifita has today opted to represent Tonga - one day after being selected for Australia.
Fifita, who has worn the green and gold on seven occasions including the Trans-Tasman Test in May this year, follows in the footsteps of rampaging Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo, who will also play for the second-tier nation in the tournament later this month.
It will be Fifita's first time representing Tonga, while brother David played for them on one occasion in 2016 and is a strong chance of being a selected once again. Changes to international eligibility rules in 2017 mean Fifita will still be available for State of Origin selection next year.
In turn, Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has called the Penrith Panthers' Reagan Campbell-Gillard into the Australian squad, explaining that it is a positive move for the international game.
"Andrew called me and said he was passionate about playing for Tonga and I respect and support that decision," Meninga said.
"It is obviously a significant boost for Tonga as well as the World Cup – and international Rugby League in general.
"At the same time it is also a great opportunity for someone like Reagan, who has been outstanding for the Panthers.
"I’m extremely excited about seeing Reagan in a Kangaroos jersey."
Meanwhile, Darius Boyd has withdrawn from the World Cup due to a hamstring injury, with former NSW VB Blues winger Josh Mansour brought in as his replacement. The news caps an impressive return for Mansour, who was devastatingly ruled out of the 2016 Rugby League Four Nations after suffering a ruptured ACL in training.
"It will be wonderful to see Josh back in the Kangaroos jersey after his injury in last year’s Four Nations," Meninga said.
"I know how disappointed he was to be injured last year and I know how passionate he is about the green and gold.
"It is a credit to him that he has been able to return to the highest representative honours."
The updated Kangaroos squad is as follows:
Boyd Cordner (vc)
Cameron Smith (c)