Tui Lolohea insists he will always play for Tonga after power struggle

Tui Lolohea could have been forgiven for sporting a bald patch he has had enough reason to tear his hair out over Tonga’s troubles.

The Salford ace has had one question running through his mind over recent months – what the hell is going on?

Tonga’s official board fell out with coaches and players, meaning boss Kristian Woolf was sacked and the top stars that committed to the Pacific island would have boycotted games.

Things were so bad, the International Rugby League board took action and brought in the ‘Tonga Invitational XIII’ to make sure the top talent played this Autumn, bossed by the new St Helens chief.

Now Lolohea will face Great Britain in Hamilton, New Zealand, this Saturday after making the team - but not before plenty of head scratching.

The 24-year-old, a Kiwi by birth but playing for his father’s country, said: “I wasn’t actually planning on going home.

“I’ve got two kids here and we were going to do a bit of travelling on this side of the world. So I had to fit some in before going back to New Zealand.

“I hadn’t focussed on it too much but I was hoping it would’ve all unfolded by now.

“I was of the attitude of, ‘If it happens, it happens.’ I was always going to put my hand up for Tonga.”

Lolohea will actually be up against club boss Ian Watson, who is Great Britain’s assistant coach.

An occasion like the 2017 Rugby League World Cup semi-final, which England won 20-18 in front of 30,000 Tonga-made fans, will go down very nicely.

That and the Test against Australia on November 2 will round off a season that saw Lolohea join Leeds, fly back to play for Tonga, only to sign for Salford on his return then make Super League’s Grand Final.