By Mabel Muller and Levi Matautia-Morgan - email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
After a victorious weekend, Mate Ma'a Tonga Coach Kristian Woolf wants the National Rugby League (NRL) and the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) to pour more finances in to Pacific teams.
Mate Ma'a Tonga Coach Kristian Woolf and Captain Sika Manu. Photo/ PRN.
Tonga sealed their second win in the tournament against Samoa on Saturday night at a packed-out FMG Stadium in Hamilton.
The stadium was a sea of colours as fans showed up to sing, cheer and dance for their Pacific teams.
Woolf says the experience was one of a kind and it proves that Pacific teams are worth the investment.
"The first step I think is putting on more games. We'd love to play Samoa every year and I know they'd love to play us every year and I'm sure the fans would love to see that as well."
Tongan and Samoan players say a prayer before the match. Photo/ PRN.
Woolf also adds that he'd like both teams to get given more opportunities to play tier one teams as well.
"That's how we improve our world-rankings and start to build an even better footy culture," he says. "It all comes down to what finances the International Rugby League and the NRL are willing to put into teams like ourselves and Samoa, in particular, to see us improve."
More than 18,000 people attended the big Pacific clash. Woolf says the atmosphere the Pacific fans created almost moved them to tears.
"When you see however-many-thousand people there, with 20 minutes to go, stand and start singing songs and waving flags, it's an experience you just don't get anywhere else."
More than 18,000 fans packed out the FMG Stadium in Hamilton for the Tonga vs. Samoa game. Photo/ PRN.
Tonga's now preparing to face the Kiwis this weekend in Hamilton.
Woolf says it's going to be a tough one.
"No tier two nation has ever beaten a tier one nation," he says. "It's a massive ask. It's one that we're going to certainly go out there and give our absolute best shot. We're getting more and more confident so we're certainly up for a good challenge but I'm not going to make any bold predictions."
Samoa will go up against Scotland as well in Cairns.