Kiwis veteran Simon Mannering hopes Tonga are able to hold on to their dual-eligible stars and wants New Zealand to play regular test series against Pacific Island sides.

The 31-year-old was disappointed with the Kiwis historic 28-22 Rugby League World Cup loss to Tonga in Hamilton yesterday but believes the result is great for the international game.

After all of the drama over four former Kiwis players - Jason Taumalolo, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Manu Ma'u and three-try hero David Fusitu'a - choosing to play for Tonga, along with former Australian international Andrew Fifita, Mannering says he'd be pleased if they were to commit to the Pacific Island side long-term.

"If anything I'd like to see them stick with it and really look to grow the game in the Pacific Islands and really make the international game a better place," said Mannering.


"Without them in that team today doesn't happen the way it did.

"Moving forward I'd love to see guys, if they want to play for what they see as their nation, whether it be Samoa or Tonga - it doesn't have to be New Zealand - then it is great for the game."

It remains to be seen whether the group will continue with Tonga, with the cash-strapped second-tier nations currently playing just one regular mid-year test and unable to match the big money on offer for New Zealand and Australian test players.

Both the Kiwis and Kangaroos players stand to earn up to $50,000 throughout the five-week tournament and receive $120 in daily allowances, while the likes of Tonga and Samoa's players survive on $30 per diems.

Under the NRL's new broadcast deal, next year's Pacific test double-header of Samoa-Tonga and Papua New Guinea-Fiji is expected to be held in Sydney on a stand-alone weekend during the State of Origin series, while the Kiwis are in line to play England in the absence of the Anzac test.

The New Zealand Rugby League are continuing to push for more tests on home soil and exploring the future possibility of hosting a quad-series involving the Pacific sides.

Questions hang over how such a concept would be funded, with a lack of corporate backing and small television audience - although Tonga's World Cup exploits has seen interest in the international game soar. The other big stumbling block is convincing NRL clubs to release their Pacific Island players for a test series.

But in the wake of Tonga becoming the first second-tier team to beat one of the big three top-tier sides, Mannering says the opportunity is there for New Zealand to begin hosting regular test series against Pacific Island teams and avoid depending on Australia and England to provide annual fixtures.

"Unfortunately it's to our detriment that Tonga beat us but I always thought about how good it would be for a second tier nation to beat these 'top tier' nations," he said.

"But if the Pacific Island teams get to pick their strongest teams and we can create an international game - especially with New Zealand not having to rely on England or Australia to get tournaments going.

"We could play Tonga in a three match series here or a Tri-Series with Tonga and Samoa.

"If they have their strongest teams they're competitive nations as we saw today and they'll give Aussie or England as well a push.

"I just think it's great for the game. We've got to look to grow the international game and hopefully today was a start."

Taumalolo was unable to confirm whether he was keen to continue playing for Tonga or if he would consider making himself available to play for the Kiwis once more.

"That's not my decision to make," said Taumalolo.

"A lot has been said and a lot of people have different opinions so I'll worry about that after the World Cup but for now it's all about playing for Tonga."