All the action as Great Britain take on Tonga in the Oceania Cup.

Jason Taumalolo remains confident his team can find their best form against Great Britain tonight, despite the dramas engulfing Tongan league over the past few months.

It has been a period of dramatic upheaval, with the sport thrown into turmoil off the field.

Coach Kristian Woolf was axed by the board, which was the catalyst for a player strike.


There were fears that the scheduled end-of-season tests might not happen, or the team would be comprised of second-tier players.

Former Kiwis coach Frank Endacott agreed to take the reins and tried to build bridges, before government intervention (with involvement from the Rugby League International Federation and the NRL) saw the Tonga Rugby League board suspended by the RLIF.

That sees Taumalolo and his team representing a Tonga Invitational XIII in Hamilton, which has polarised fans and their league community.

But Taumalolo hasn't noted a marked impact.

"It hasn't really affected us as much as we thought," he said. "The boys have been great since they came into camp, it's all been about footy."

Without going into too much detail, the Cowboys lock said the playing group had no choice but to make their stand, even if the "mutiny" was a bad look for the sport and set a dangerous precedent.

"Since 2017 the boys have had that special bond, when one goes we all follow," said Taumalolo.

"That hasn't changed since then. When one of our own senses that something isn't right, that gives everyone else a sense they should follow, too."


Taumalolo added that their dramatic protest, as they made themselves unavailable under the old regime, had a wider motivation, rather than just the reinstatement of Woolf.

"It was not just about us but about the bigger game in Tonga," he said. "We are still here to represent Tonga and our people, despite comments from other people in our community. Everyone deep down knows that we are playing for them."

Today's match is a important litmus test for the men in red. Since their memorable run at the 2017 World Cup, they haven't recaptured those heights, albeit they were affected by lack of match practice before the Kangaroos clash last year and injuries ahead of the Kiwis test in June.

But the main issue is game management, and an 80-minute focus.

"We have had too many bad lapses and we have been punished for that," said Taumalolo.

"We need to be focused on the whole game and can't rely on special plays to get us out of trouble. [Completions] are a big one for us."

The return of halfback Ata Hingano will aid Tonga's organisation and playmaking nous in the spine, an area where they lack experience.

"Ata is our cool head when we go into games, controlling and managing where players need to be," said Taumalolo.

"Hopefully he is a bit of a game changer for us."

Woolf also pointed out that former Warrior Tui Lolohea, who can be inconsistent, is coming into the game fit and full of confidence, after a strong end to the season with Salford.

But Woolf recognises that Tonga need to raise their game, after patchy performances since the World Cup.

"We can't rest on our laurels," said Woolf.

"We haven't been as good as we wanted to be against Australia last year, or the Kiwis [in June]. This is our opportunity to show that we belong there."

The game in Hamilton will be a special occasion for Great Britain captain James Graham, who is the only survivor from the last league Lions incarnation in 2007. The 34-year-old will play his 50th test, just the eighth player in history to achieve the half century milestone.