Tonga has put NSW stars Daniel Tupou and Kotoni Staggs on collision course with the Blues after naming them in a squad to play New Zealand next Saturday, the day before Origin II in Perth.
Tonga coach Kristian Woolf named a 25-man squad, with Tupou on the wing and Staggs at five-eighth, in a call likely to force the two stars to choose between state and country.
Manly second-rower Haumole Olakau’atu and Cronulla centre Siosifa Talakai, who have both been mentioned as contenders to be added to the Blues squad, were also both named.
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Under the current eligibility rules, players from Tier 2 nations such as Tonga can play State of Origin without having to declare their allegiance to Australia.
However, the current schedule, involving a standalone representative weekend, puts an Origin game on the calendar at the same time as Pacific Nations play Test matches, creating a massive headache when players are eligible to play both.
Woolf said Tonga had named its strongest available squad as the Pacific nation looks towards providing the best possible squad for the end-of-season World Cup in England.
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“We have named a powerful squad that includes experienced players who have helped Tonga to victories in the past,” Woolf said.
“There is also a sprinkling of new players in the squad who will be important as we move forward in a World Cup year and beyond.
“There are players that can play both State of Origin and for Tonga and a decision on where they play will be made by Sunday when both interstate and international teams are selected for next week’s representative matches.
“What we don’t wish to happen is that players who have this dual eligibility are not picked in one squad and then miss out on being available to play in another team.”
- Tolotau Koula (Sea Eagles)
- Daniel Tupou (Roosters)
- Siosifa Talakai (Sharks)
- Mosese Suli (Dragons)
- Sione Katoa (Sharks)
- Kotoni Staggs (Broncos)
- Talatau Amone (Dragons)
- Siosiua Taukieaho (Roosters)
- Siliva Havili (Rabbitohs)
- Addin Fonua-Blake (Warriors)
- Sitili Tupouniua (Roosters)
- Keaon Koloamatangi (Rabbitohs)
- Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys)
- Soni Luke (Panthers)
- Haumole Olakau’atu (Sea Eagles)
- Tevita Pangai jnr (Bulldogs)
- Tevita Tatola (Rabbitohs)
- Moeaki Fotuaika (Titans)
- Will Penisini (Eels)
- Isaiya Katoa (Panthers)
- Andrew Fifita (Sharks)
- Joe Ofahengaue (Wests Tigers)
- Starford To’a (Wests Tigers)
- Christian Tuipulotu (Sea Eagles)
- Eliesa Katoa (Warriors)
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