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Kangaroos v Mate Ma'a Tonga preview

For the first time in a long time, the Kangaroos are feeling the heat.

Coming off the back of a shock 24-26 loss to the Kiwis, the Australian side is looking at the real possibility of consecutive losses in the same calendar year for the first time since 1978.

A slice of history they'll be desperate to avoid.

Saturday will mark the first time Tonga have played against the Kangaroos and they are bidding to become only the fifth team to ever taste success against Australia.

The fact that these two nations are yet to meet on the international stage, with both sides out to prove a point, means the match is sure to be as physical as it is entertaining.

Valentine Holmes and Aaron Woods have retained their spots in the Kangaroos side, with Andrew Fifita ready to run rampant for Mate Ma'a Tonga against his former 'Roos team mates.

Andrew Fifita's defection from Australia certainly boosted the tiny island's strength as an emerging rugby league powerhouse, and with guys like Jason Taumalolo, Teveta Pangai Junior and Addin Fonua-Blake in the mix they now boast one of the most formidable packs on the international stage.

Fifita boasts an incredible 117 tackle busts from the 2018 season, just 10 shy of the entire Australian starting pack (127) and easily able to churn out 150+ metres in under 40 minutes of game time.

Add some other hard-running middles to share the load and Fifita can go all out against his former side.

If the Tongan's can get a roll on in the forwards, the Aussies will certainly find it challenging to play the style of game they need to.

On the other side of the park, Sharks' star Valentine Holmes will be looking to carve out his own slice of history.

Holmes' 15 tries are the equal-most any Australian player has scored after 12 Tests, on par with Billy Slater who holds the record for most tries after 13 Tests with 16.

If Val was to cross for a hat-trick not only would he overtake Slater, but he'd rewrite the record books by equalling Brad Fittler who scored 18 tries in 40 matches, entering the top 10 try scorers of all time for the Kangaroos.

Last week's loss has cast doubts around the Kangaroo's status as the premier rugby league nation, with the Tongans ready to pull off an unprecedented scalp in the international arena.

The match is scheduled for 5:45pm (AEDT) and will be broadcast live on Chanel Nine, Fox League and Sky Sports 2 (NZ)

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour 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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