Mahe Fonua believes Super League’s strength can help Tonga win World Cup
6 December, 2019, 3:16 am
LONDON, 06 DECEMBER 2019 (THE SUN UK) – Mahe Fonua believes life in an improved Super League packed with bigger stars can help set up World Cup glory – for Tonga.
The Hull three-quarter is back after two years in the NRL and has been joined by national boss Kristian Woolf, who is now in charge of St Helens.
Fonua will face Sonny Bill Williams at Toronto, Great Britain’s Gareth Widdop at Warrington, NRL Grand Final winner George Burgess at Wigan and New South Wales’ half-back James Maloney at Catalans.
All that makes Tonga lifting the trophy in England in 2021 is not as daft a prospect as it first sounds.
“It’s not out of the realms of possibility that Tonga can win it,” said Fonua, who missed the Autumn wins over Great Britain and Australia through injury.
“Look at who we’ve beaten in the last couple of months and hopefully in the years to come, we can build and be more successful.
“There’s definitely talent in Tonga’s squad and its ideal having Kristian over here as he can see some of the players first hand.
“It also gives the players that play in Super League a better chance of playing for Tonga and Kristian is an awesome coach who doesn’t beat around the bush.
“Now the calibre of players in Super League right now shows how big the competition is getting.
“To get players like Gareth, George, James, Sonny Bill and Aidan Sezer, as well as the players that have come through here, makes it more competitive.
“Every club is trying to get the best players they can from all over the world.”
Fonua, who can play wing or centre, won the Challenge Cup with Hull in 2016 and 2017 before heading back to NRL side Wests Tigers.
However, a sign of how highly he is regarded was the banner hung from Hull’s training ground fence saying, ‘Welcome home, Mahe.’
And the 26-year-old admits that even though other Super League clubs showed their interest, there was only one place he was heading.
But even though his style will be the same, there will be changes to the way he plays.
He added: “There were a couple of others in for me but Hull hit the ball out of the park.
“The club came to an agreement with my wife and I pretty quickly, so much so there wasn’t really time to speak to anyone else.
“But in the NRL, I was coached by Ivan Cleary and Michael Maguire and I’d like to think they’ve passed their knowledge on to me.
“I don’t see me game play changing too much but I think I can now be a bit smarter with how I use my strengths, said Fonua.