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Tonga boast star power for Kiwis Test

Published: 5:07PM Thursday October 08, 2009 Source: NZPA

Parramatta utility Feleti Mateo is the headline act in Tonga's squad for the rugby league Test against New Zealand in Rotorua next Wednesday.

Mateo is set to line up 10 days after being in the beaten Eels side in the National Rugby League (NRL) grand final against Melbourne.

He also played against the Kiwis in last year's equivalent contest, a build-up match for both sides before the World Cup which the Kiwis went on to win.

While Mateo again gives Tonga a high-quality performer he is not the only player with NRL experience in a team coached by Rohan Smith, son of long-time NRL coach Brian Smith.

Smith's squad include Manly winger Tony Williams, former New Zealand Warriors back rower and 2006-07 Kiwis international Epalahame Lauaki, Newcastle second rower Richard Fa'aoso, Cronulla's Melbourne-bound Atelea Vea, Viliami Mataka, of Wests Tigers, Parramatta's Etuate Uaisele and 2009 rookie Warrior Ukuma Ta'ai.

Ta'ai will become a double international after previously representing Tonga in test rugby.

Also named are former NRL players now playing in England, ex-Warrior Tevita Leo-Latu and Willie Manu.

Mateo, Latu, Fa'aoso, Manu, Lauaki, Williams, Uaisele and halfback Eddie Paea are among the group of players who appeared for Tonga at last year's World Cup.

Tonga squad: Paki Afu, Richard Fa'aoso, Sam Huihahau, Toshio Laiseni, Tevita Leo-Latu, Epalahame Lauaki, Siuatonga Likiliki Pita Maile, Willie Manu, Viliami Mataka, Feleti Mateo, Eddie Paea, Nafe Seluini, Ukuma Ta'ai, Joel Taufa'ao, Sione Tovo, Etuate Uaisele, Siosia Vave, Atelea Vea, Tony Williams.