Mate Ma'a Tonga

Calls for Tonga v Samoa test series

Alongside his Salford team-mate Tim Lafai, Sio received a late call-up to Samoa’s World Cup squad last year due to injuries in Matt Parish’s squad.

Sio didn’t feature in any of the games but he was incredibly proud to be part of the Samoan squad that became the first-ever tier two nation to reach a World Cup final.

“We were just happy to support our brothers but to get the call after the England game we were buzzing,” Sio told Love Rugby League. “We were like little kids in the car talking about how fun it was going to be.

Officials hoping for late boost as tickets still available for Kiwis-Tonga rematch

New Zealand Rugby League is expecting a crowd above 20,000 for Saturday's test between the Kiwis and Tonga, which is still way up on the 12,763 fans that turned up to watch New Zealand stun Australia at the Auckland venue last October. 

However, tickets for this weekend's clash - the first between the two nations since Tonga's historic upset at the 2017 World Cup - have not sold as fast as expected.

It's a change from Tonga's previous two games at Mt Smart, when a 'sea of red' flooded the stands.

Kiwis to play British Lions, Tonga in 2019

New Zealand will play Mate Ma'a Tonga on 22 June at Mt Smart Stadium in the first match of the new Oceania Cup.

The Kiwi Ferns will also play against an unnamed opponent in the double header - they'll play a second match against Australia in October.

The Oceania Cup will be played in June and November during the international Test windows.

Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Fiji and Australia make up the six-nation competition.

Samoa out to make amends and plan for the future

Despite reaching the quarter finals after salvaging a 14-all draw against Scotland in the group stages of the tournament, the winless Samoan side were embroiled with backlash after a string of disappointing performances and talk their talk of players – including Leilua – returning to their NRL clubs in the pre-season overweight.

One of the more experienced leaders in the line-up, Leilua told NRL.com coach Matt Parish identified the fixture as a chance to build depth for the nation.

"They're the future for our team," Leilua said.

Time for England to address ball control

The Wayne Bennett-coached side have completed at below 80 per cent in three of their four games so far, culminating in a sloppy effort in last week's 36-6 quarter-final victory over Papua New Guinea, where they completed just over half of their 46 sets.

Pacific league teams tweak line-ups for Round 2

Ricky Leutele has been named on the wing in place of Peter Mata'utia, who's returned to Australia with a quad injury.

The other change is up front with Herman Ese'ese promoted to start in the front row and Sam Lisone dropping to the bench.

Mate Ma'a Tonga have tweaked their backline for the clash.

Solomone Kata comes in for Konrad Hurrell in the centres, alongside three-try hero Michael Jennings, while David Fusitu'a replaces former Warriors teammate Manu Vatuvei on the wing.

Samoa squad: