By Levi Matautia-Morgan - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mate Ma'a Tonga World Cup campaign's rippling effect continued over the weekend with the Under-16 Mate Ma'a Tonga NZ team taking out the Pasifika Youth Cup.
Tonga beat Samoa in the under-16s final while Samoa beat New Zealand in the under-18s final.
MMT NZ Under 16s. Photo/ Facebook.
MMT New Zealand representative Hengi Fusitu’a says last year’s world cup has boosted respect for the Tongan jersey.
“It was a different feeling this year, to be able to make it in the team and be able to wear the jersey,” he says.
“You can see there’s a different sense of pride. I think the value of the jersey was increased a bit from the World Cup and these boys were pretty keen to do justice like the World Cup boys.”
MMT NZ Under 16's. Photo/ Facebook.
Last weekend's tournament was the second Pasifika Youth Cup.
Warriors development coordinator Jordan Friend says the competition is a way to help harness the excitement and pride, which can help the development of the game in the Pacific.
The tournament included New Zealand-based teams representing Niue, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Cook Islands and New Zealand.
Fusitu'a says the tournament allows young players to represent the Pacific whilst taking any opportunities to play professionally.
“From now on these boys will push on to either get a SG Ball (Junior rugby league football competition) contract in Australia or try to train with the NYC (National Youth Competition) level."