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Father honoured as Tonga and Cook Islands collect the women's trophies

Tonga captain Litiana Tu’ifua began playing Rugby League because the game was a passion of her late father.

On Sunday at the Croom Regional Sporting Complex Tu’ifua honoured her dad Ngahau Tu’ifua by helping Tonga win the Harmony 9s Open Women trophy defeating Fiji 12-6.

“It means everything. I’ve been here since I was 15 and I’ve never won the final until today – and I’m 22,” Tu’ifua told

“I’ve waited for so long to get this win. Sometimes we go to training and over the weeks we find out we’re related to someone else in the team – the game has brought us together and makes our bond even stronger.

“I’ve been playing because my dad played it and loved it so much. He passed away in 2016 so he’s been a big inspiration for me.”

Player of the Match was NSW U19s Origin and South Sydney Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup player, Kate Fallon.

“I’ve always wanted to play for Tonga as my mum’s side of the family is from there. So it meant a lot to be able to play for my family today,” Fallon said.

“They were proud of me and so excited for me. And I learned so much more about my culture, which is something I will hold onto after Rugby League.”

One of Tonga players injured her right ankle late in the game and had to be helped off the field.

But in a show of solidarity her teammates brought the trophy over to the sidelines and posed for team photos with her.

Cook Island U16s Player of the Match Alaianne Toia. Photo: Kristie Laird
Cook Island U16s Player of the Match Alaianne Toia. Photo: Kristie Laird

Cook Islands made a clean sweep in the Under-18 and Under-16 girls finals.

‘Ozzy Cooks’ as the call themselves, beat Samoa 18-12 in the Under-16s decider after leading 10-4 at halftime.

Player of the Match was co-captain Alaianne Toia, who played all four games including the final.

It was back-to-back Harmony 9s trophies for the Cook Islands.

“It came down to who was more hungry as Samoa are a very good team,” said Cook Islands coach Charlie Vaine.

“I think we just put more effort into it – up to 100 per cent – as this is a totally new team compared with last year.

“My girls put in the hard yards and didn’t miss any trainings. It’s a good feeling but it’s just the start.”

Cook Island U18s Player of the Match Phoenix Lamese. Photo: Kristie Laird
Cook Island U18s Player of the Match Phoenix Lamese. Photo: Kristie Laird

Cook Islands Under-18s girls beat Tonga 14-8 after leading 8-4 at the break with Phoenix Lamese named Player of the Match.

The two-day event is showcased 134 games with eight trophies up for grabs: Emerging Nations, Mixed League Tag, Under 16s and Under 18s boys and girls, Open Men and Open Women.

There are 27 heritage groups and 1200 players involved in the nine-a-side game.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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