Andrew Fifita has made a landmark decision to snub a call-up to the Australia team in favour of representing Tonga at the 2017 World Cup.
New international eligibility rules, introduced this year, allow players who qualify for more than one country to represent a tier two nation if they are not playing for one of the big three of Australia, England and New Zealand.
But few will have expected Cronulla star Fifita to switch to Tonga, especially after he was named in Mal Meninga’s 24-man squad for the Kangaroos.
Meninga has instead been forced to call up Campbell Reagan-Gillard.
Fifita’s inclusion is a significant boost to a Tonga side that many are now tipping to create an upset at the competition.
Joining Fifita is North Queensland’s Jason Taumalolo, who withdrew from the New Zealand side.
While Bitcoin is becoming an increasingly popular option of depositing at betting sites, as can be found here, the standard bookmakers have slashed Tonga’s odds of winning the tournament to as little as 25/1.
Super League based players Mahe Fonua (Hull), Sam Moa (Catalans), Ben Murdoch Masila (Salford), Ukuma Ta’ai (Huddersfield), Samisoni Langi (Leigh) and Manu Vatuvei (Salford) are all included.
Tonga squad: Andrew Fifita (Cronulla Sharks), Mahe Fonua (Hull FC), David Fusitu’a (New Zealand Warriors), Siliva Havilli (St George Illawarra Dragons), Ata Hingano (New Zealand Warriors), Will Hopoate (Canterbury Bulldogs), Konrad Hurrell (Gold Coast Titans), Michael Jennings (Parramatta Eels), Solomone Kata (New Zealand Warriors), Sione Katoa (Penrith Panthers), Samisoni Langi (Leigh Centurions), Tuimoala Lolohea (Wests Tigers), Sika Manu (Hull FC), Manu Ma’u (Parramatta Eels), Sam Moa (Catalans Dragons), Ben Murdoch Masila (Salford Red Devils), Joe Ofahengaue (Brisbane Broncos), Tevita Pangai Jnr (Brisbane Broncos), Ukuma Ta’ai (Huddersfield Giants), Sio Siua Taukieaho (Sydney Roosters), Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys), Peni Terepo (Parramatta Eels), Daniel Tupou (Sydney Roosters), Manu Vatuvei (Salford Red Devils)