Andrew Fifita has called for more games for Tonga, labelling Saturday's test with Australia as the "biggest match of the year."
The highly anticipated clash between Mate Ma'a Tonga and the Kangaroos on Saturday is a sellout, with the prospect of extra temporary seating being installed at Mt Smart to cope with the increased demand.
Tonga also has a date with the Kiwis next June in Auckland – it's not completely finalized but all but confirmed – but beyond that their calendar is up in the air.
Their deeds at the 2017 World Cup has lifted them towards the top tier nations and Fifita says that needs to be recognized.
"It's going to be the biggest game of the year and you are going to see a sea of red," said Fifita. "If we took this game to Eden Park we would still pack that out. It's Auckland and this is where everyone wants to be."
"It's about growing the international game in the right way. It is not about three teams anymore and I think we have challenged that from last year.
"I just wish we had a few more games for Tonga. I wish we had a trial match coming into this game so we can be a real force."
Fifita, often acknowledged as the best prop in the game, stole the headlines with his last minute change of allegiance before the World Cup, only telling Australian coach Mal Meninga two hours before the Kangaroos were due to assemble that his heart was with Tonga.
"I understood it was late [on the Tuesday]," said Fifita. "They had named it on the Sunday. I kinda knew I was going to change my mind but I guess I left it a bit too late."
Fifita, who had played seven tests for the Kangaroos, was braced for a negative reaction – "I was talking it over with the wife and she just said, 'do you really need the backlash?' – but felt it went too far.
"We copped a lot of criticism at first. From players, a lot of journos, and Australian and New Zealand people. I have two nationalities and if you haven't got two nationalities you shouldn't talk about what I am feeling and how we feel about this."
But ultimately Fifita's brave move, along with Jason Taumalolo, changed the dimension of the tournament and ensured their legacy as national heroes across the hundreds of islands that make up the kingdom of Tonga.
"Everyone said thank you for doing it," reflected the 29-year-old. "We made the World Cup exciting. The crowds that happened showed that our decision was the right decision. We represented our little island with pride.
"[And] my Dad is just grateful. He cries every time I walk out on the field wearing this red jersey. I've never been in a team that welcomes a team with an atmosphere like us."