The 4000-people capacity Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau was bulging at the seams this evening as fans and the Mate Ma'a Tonga rugby league team collided.

Fans were decked out in red and white, the colours of the Tongan flag, as the team strolled into the centre ahead of their clash against Australia on October 20.

Led by rampaging lock Jason Taumalolo, Mate Ma'a Tonga turned heads at last year's Rugby League World Cup where they made the semi-finals.

The league team even toppled bigger brothers New Zealand during pool play, downing the Kiwis 28-22 in a thriller at Waikato Stadium.

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Members of the Mate Ma'a Tonga rugby league team record the fan reaction on their phones. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Members of the Mate Ma'a Tonga rugby league team record the fan reaction on their phones. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Their fans were just as impressive, swamping New Zealand in a sea of red and white with Tongan flags popping up everywhere.

Nearly a year later and the electric atmosphere generated by Mate Ma'a Tonga and their fans hasn't subsided,

"Everyone [was] really into it and so passionate about the team," Herald reporter Cheree Kinnear said at the event.

"It [was] crazy since about 5 o'clock, there [were] cars coming through, everyone [was] fully decked out in Tongan gear, everyone was so excited to see the team."