In many ways, Tonga has become New Zealand's team now that the Kiwis are out of the Rugby League World Cup.

The competition darlings face England in the semifinals at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland on Saturday night, where it is anticipated they will have overwhelming support as they attempt to win through to the World Cup final for the first time.

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Disappointed Kiwi fans will at least be able to cheer on familiar faces with 10 of their squad members having also represented the New Zealand side.


"I think we are getting some fans and that," back-rower Sio Siua Taukeiaho said on Tuesday. "I think they have got two teams now. Them supporting us is good. Having more supporters will be good and hopefully, they can turn up on Saturday and support us."

Tonga has been the story of the World Cup so far. The last-minute defections of Jason Taumalolo, Andrew Fifita, David Fusitu'a, Manu Mau'u and Taukeiaho from tier one countries dominated the lead-up to the event.

Their huge local support and win over New Zealand in pool play stood out as major talking points and now they are attempting to qualify for their first ever final.

"It will be a big occasion for us if we make the final," Taukeiaho said. "We had never made it to the quarter-finals and we did that last week and now we get another opportunity to play a semifinal against England.

"If we do win against England and make it to the final I will be lost for words. [It will be] the first time Tonga has made it to the final."

The Tongans got a scare in the quarter-finals before just holding off Lebanon to advance and Taukeiaho thinks that has helped sharpen their work at training this week.

"Last week was a tough game for us," the Roosters forward said. "I think we took Lebanon a bit too lightly there.

"Going up against England will be tough - England has always been in the top three in the world."

A crowd approaching the capacity of 30,000 is expected in Auckland and Taukeiaho believes that will spur on his side.

"Singing their songs while we were playing gave us goosebumps and that is probably one of the reasons a few of the boys left other countries to come and play for Tonga - we know the fans will always turn up and have a lot of pride in that red and white jersey and we are not just doing it for ourselves but for all the supporters that are behind us.

"I think a few of the boys when they were called up to play for the Kiwis their parents were happy but when they chose to play for Tonga there were tears and joy choosing to play for a real small nation, not much money but I think the pride and love that [made us want] to pull on that red and white jersey and represent our nation is for our supporters as well."