Senior forward Simon Mannering says the Kiwis have learned from past mistakes and are not letting emotions cloud their thinking ahead of tomororw's crunch Rugby League World Cup clash against Tonga.

The 31-year-old dismissed suggestions the Kiwis might draw motivation from the fact they are lining up against four former test teammates - Jason Taumalolo, Sio Siua Taukeiaho and David Fusitu'a - who turned their back on New Zealand to represent Tonga.

The quartet's defection initially sparked howls of protest from Kiwis captain Adam Blair and frustrated coach David Kidwell but Mannering reiterated recent talk downplaying the potential for fireworks when the two sides come together at Waikato Stadium.

The former New Zealand captain and 43-test veteran said high emotions had undermined the Kiwis in years gone by and while the prospect of any bad blood lingering between the two teams remains a hot topic, the players are focused on maintaining their discipline and getting the job done.


"No, not at all," said Mannering.

"That's where Kiwis teams in the past, we've got in trouble when emotions have got involved and allegiances are split between countries.

"That's where we've probably fallen into a trap so I think from all that (drama) of players choosing teams over others, that's all in the past and we've all moved on as a group.

"I'm sure you guys (media) are going to try and bring it up as often as you can leading up to this game but we've got a job to do for our country, New Zealand and the Kiwis.

"You definitely look at (Tonga) a little bit with what they've been doing throughout this tournament but we're all familiar with their personnel and what they do in a game.

"We're just trying to focus on ourselves and build as a group through this tournament and try and get better as we go.

"This is going to be our toughest challenge yet. No disrespect to our previous opposition, but it's going to be a good challenge for our group to know where we're at and see what we can build on to get better."

With eight former or current Warriors teammates in the Tongan side, both Mannering and fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck admitted they had been in contact with some of the opposition this week.

Tuivasa-Sheck took time out to exchange good luck messages with Tongan halfback and rookie Warriors playmaker Ata Hingano, while Mannering spent time on Wednesday visiting one of his best friends and a fellow Kiwis and Warriors icon.

"I caught up with Manu (Vatuvei) yesterday," said Mannering.

"It's probably harder for people outside the game to understand. It is just a game it's not that we're sworn enemies.

"You go out there and play and just try and do the best for your team.

"Obviously it's a physical game so there's going to be physical encounters and there might be disagreements out there between friends, but whatever happens at the end of the day you're still friends and you'll shake each other's hands afterwards and carry on."