Almanac Rugby League – the final Test

The rugby league season finally comes to an end on Saturday with the clash between Australia and Tonga in Auckland. Tonga was a stand-out at last year’s World Cup while Australia is coming off a poor loss to the Kiwis last weekend.


The team line-ups are:

James Tedesco                                     Fullback                                      Will Hopoate

Valentine Holmes                               Wingers                                       David Fusitu’a
Dane Gagai                                                                                                 Daniel Tupou

Latrell Mitchell                                     Centres                                       Michael Jennings
Tom Trbojevic                                                                                            Solomone Kata

Luke Keary                                            Halves                                         Tui Lolohea
Daly Cherry-Evans                                                                                    Ata Hingano

Josh McGuire                                        Lock                                             Jason Taumalolo

Boyd Cordner                                    Second row                                    Sika Manu
Felise Kaufusi                                                                                             Tevita Pangai Jnr

David Klemmer                                    Front row                                    Andrew Fifita
Jordan McLean                                                                                           Siosiua Taukeiaho

Damien Cook                                         Hooker                                         Siliva Havili

Ben Hunt                                                 Bench                                           Sione Katoa
Jake Trbojevic                                                                                               Addin Fonua-Blake
Tyson Frizell                                                                                                  Joe Ofahengaue
Aaron Woods                                                                                                 Peni Terepo


Like all big games, I expect this to be won in the forwards. The Australian pack copped a hiding from their Kiwi counterparts last weekend and will be out to set the record straight. A couple of them may even be playing for their representative futures. They should be up for it. If they do rise to the occasion, it will give their talented backline the time and space they need to deliver the goods. We saw enough from Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic last week to show that they have the talents to rampage around the outer third of the field with Holmes and Gagai more than capable of finishing things off. Tedesco, given room, will also carve them up.


But take Tonga lightly at your peril. They, too, have plenty of NRL experience on their side, especially in the forwards. If Fifita can harness his not inconsiderable abilities and combine with the brute strength of Taukeiaho, Taumalolo and Tevita Pangai Jnr, the Kangaroo middle will have their work cut out for them. The Pacific Islanders also have skills and smarts out the back through Lolohea, Hingano, Hopoate and Tupou.


I expect to see more of a free flowing game this weekend after the initial sorting out up front. Watch it on Gem.



About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at


  1. Damian Roache says

    Perhaps the last International in the southern hemisphere Ian, but our RL comrades in the northern hemisphere have a plethora of games coming their way. The England v New Zealand 3 game Test Series which both countries are desperate to win for their respective governing bodies and supporters.

    Then there is the European Championship where Scotland and Wales get the chance to rebuild after poor 2017 Rugby League World Cup campaigns and Ireland will be keen to continue their good form from the same tournament. Fourth team France will be looking to regroup after a mauling from England in last night’s Test and prove they are still a notch above the Celtic trio.

    Finally the 2021 RLWC Qualifiers are in full swing with the Spanish, Russians and Serbs in a three way battle for entry into the next round closer to a spot at the ‘big dance’. Serbia hosting the Spaniards this weekend after a surprise away loss to Russia last weekend.

    With regards to the Australian v Tonga game, I do hope the hype and lead up are matched by a quality game. The Tongans have previously allowed NZ and England to get away to good leads before clawing their way back to defeat the Kiwis and losing to the Poms despite a last ditch attempt to win the game. I don’t think they could do the same against the Kangaroos. Inexperienced halves will once again be their issue, however if their forwards can get on a roll and the outside backs – including the soon to head for Super League Konrad Hurrell – can hold their own……well they are a chance.

    The crowd atmosphere at the game should be electric and emotional with a see of red expected to greet the Aussies. If the pride and passion of the Tongan supporters can be transformed into skill and courage by their players, Australia may very well lose two consecutive Test matches in the one calendar year for the first time since the 2-0 loss to France in 1978.

    As an International RL advocate my heart is with Tonga, however my head and betting slip are with Australia.

  2. Damian Roache says

    For consecutive losses against two different countries you have to go back to the 1970 World Cup where the Kangaroos lost to Great Britain and France in the space of a week.

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