Kangaroos second rower Felise Kaufisi is bracing for a backlash on Saturday night, with the possibility of members of his own family cheering for the opposition.

Kaufisi has Tongan heritage, with both of his parents born in the Pacific kingdom, and he has represented Mate Ma'a Tonga on three previous occasions.

But Kaufisi will wear the green and gold at Mt Smart stadium, since declaring his allegiance for Australia last year, and will face many of his former teammates in the historic test.

"It is going to be pretty tough," admitted Kaufisi. "I have played for Tonga before in the Pacific tests and it is going to be a bit weird, a bit daunting facing the Sipa Tau. But I guess I have to take it in my stride, put emotions aside and do my best on the day."


[Read more: Jason Taumalolo on the Tongan league revolution he helped create]

Kaufisi also expects a few boos, as he becomes a focal point for the sellout crowd.

"I'm not too sure, I don't think they will really like me to be honest," said Kaufisi, when asked what reaction he expected from the massed Tongan support. "[But] I've seen the atmosphere from the World Cup and really looking forward to it. They are a really proud and passionate nation and do get behind their players."

Even Kaufisi's family might be divided.

"Mum and Dad and one of my sisters [are going]," said Kaufisi. "My old man reckons he is wearing half green, and the other half red. [I've got some] cousins in Auckland, [but] not sure who they are supporting."

Kaufisi is eligible for New Zealand, Australia and Tonga.

Mt Smart stadium is expected to be a sea of red on Saturday night. Photo / Photosport
Mt Smart stadium is expected to be a sea of red on Saturday night. Photo / Photosport

He was born in Auckland, along with five of his eight siblings, and spent the first seven years of his life growing up in Glen Innes, before the family moved to Bundaberg in Queensland.

"It is a bit weird," conceded Kaufisi. "I might be eligible to play for other nations, but my heart belongs to the green and gold."


A number of high profile players, including Jason Taumalolo, Andrew Fifita and David Fusitu'a have switched back to represent their Pacific country of heritage, but Kaufisi won't be following in their footsteps.

"I have to be careful ... but I just think I am more drawn to Australia," said Kaufisi. "Growing up in Queensland since a young age I found that pride and passion and I am more drawn to the green and gold.

"I think it is the pinnacle of the game, it's bigger than State of Origin, and is the highest honour. For me it's not that hard. I feel a sense of belonging to the green and gold, that's where my drive is."

Kaufisi admits there will be an intimidation factor on Saturday – with more than 27,000 fanatical Tongan fans expected – but the Australians need to weather the storm.

"We need to take it in our stride," said Kaufisi. "Obviously it will be a bit intimidating, but we need to embrace it and try to take it to them. We definitely need to put in a better performance. We half beat ourselves last weekend [against the Kiwis]."

While the Kangaroos look for improvement, the Tonga side want to maintain the standards they set at last year's World Cup, where they reached the semifinals, without letting the emotion of the occasion get to them.

"I suppose outside noise will put expectations on us but within the playing group we try to keep grounded," said Tonga fullback Will Hopoate. "Everyone says we made the World Cup but we didn't win the World Cup. So we're still trying to play our best footy and show what we're capable of as a country, not just be one-hit wonders. We want to try and be a consistent force for the next X-amount of years."