Cronulla forward Scott Sorensen is the latest NRL star to pledge his allegiance to Tonga and has been chosen in an extended Mate Ma’a squad for next month’s historic Test against Australia in Auckland.
Sorensen, who has been named on the interchange bench for Friday night’s preliminary final against Melbourne, is the nephew of Kiwi greats Dane and Kurt Sorensen but also has Tongan heritage and is under consideration to make his representative debut in the October 20 Test at Mount Smart Stadium.
The 25-year-old second-rower is part of a strong Mate Ma’a squad, headed by Cronulla teammate Andrew Fifita and North Queensland superstar Jason Taumalolo.
The 29-man squad also includes the Telstra Premiership’s leading tryscorer, David Fusitu’a, along with South Sydney winger Robert Jennings and his Sydney Roosters opposite Daniel Tupou, while Rabbitohs forward Tevita Taola has also been chosen.
Tonga coach Kristian Woolf will have great forward depth at his disposal after selecting Brisbane pair Tevita Pangai jnr and Joe Ofahengaue, along with Roosters prop Siosiua Taukeiaho.
The nucleus of the squad comprises players from last year’s stunning World Cup campaign, in which the Mate Ma’a beat New Zealand and suffered a controversial semi-final loss to England, but Woolf arguably has greater depth to call on for Tonga’s first Test against the Kangaroos.
The squad features five Super League players - Sika Manu (Hull FC), Samisoni Langi, Sam Moa (both Catalans Dragons), Ben Murdoch-Masila (Warrington Wolves) and Ukuma Ta’ai (Huddersfield).
"We are very pleased with the depth in the squad we have managed to name for this very important Test match," Woolf said.
"We feel it is representative of the depth of Tongan rugby league in both the NRL and English Super League, and also rewards players that have made a firm commitment to playing for their country of heritage.
"This will be a huge occasion for Tonga to take on the top-ranked rugby league country in the world, so we need every player we can committed to that goal."
The final Mate Ma’a squad will be announced next month, and will go into a 10-day team camp leading up to the Test.
Andrew Fifita (Cronulla Sharks)
Addin Fonua-Blake (Manly Warringah)
Mahe Fonua (Wests Tigers)
Moeaki Fotuaika (Gold Coast Titans)
David Fusitua (NZ Warriors)
Siliva Havilli (Canberra Raiders)
Ata Hingano (Canberra Raiders)
Will Hopoate (Canterbury Bulldogs)
Konileti Hurrell (Gold Coast Titans)
Michael Jennings (Parramatta Eels)
Robert Jennings (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Solomone Kata (NZ Warriors)
Sione Katoa (Penrith Panthers)
Samisoni Langi (Catalans Dragons)
Tuimoala Lolohea (Wests Tigers)
Sika Manu (Hull FC)
Sam Moa (Catalans Dragons)
Ben Murdoch-Masila (Warrington Wolves)
Joe Ofahengaue (Brisbane Broncos)
Tevita Pangai jnr (Brisbane Broncos)
Agnatius Paasi (NZ Warriors)
Leivaha Pulu (NZ Warriors)
Scott Sorensen (Cronulla Sharks)
Ukuma Ta'ai (Huddersfield Giants)
Jason Taumalolo (North Qld Cowboys)
Tevita Tatola (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Siosiua Taukeiaho (Sydney Roosters)
Peni Terepo (Parramatta Eels)
Daniel Tupou (Sydney Roosters)