Tonga Head Coach Kristian Woolf believes his Tongan players can help put a smile on the faces of the nation after a difficult year.
Earlier this year, an underwater volcano erupted off the coast of Tonga, which resulted in a tsunami that caused major damage to the island.
Woolf believes the World Cup at the end of the year could provide a chance to put smiles on faces.
He told Love Rugby League: “A strong Tongan team and a strong Tongan performance is going to put a massive smile on the faces of the people back there.
“The Tongan rugby league team is the most well known team in the country. The country really gets behind you. We’ve seen that plenty of times when we go back there after games after we beat Australia and the reception is indescribable.
“That shows what the team means to the nation. Us putting together such a strong group and that’s what we’re going to do for a World Cup.
“We’re going to put together a group that’s going to be really, really competitive. Once we put that group together and we get playing and playing to our potential, that’s going to put a massive smile on everyone’s faces and just make everyone so proud to be Tongan and that’s what this group of men do so well.”
Woolf on World Cup target
Back in 2017, Tonga were just a ball steal away from beating England and reaching the World Cup Final.
Andrew Fifita reached for the line, the ball came free and he grounded it. But the referee gave a knock-on, despite Tongan pleas to at least look at the video.
Woolf believes he can put together a side that can go one better and reach the final.
He added: “We’ve obviously got some targets in mind. We thought we should have been in the final last time. So we’re obviously thinking that we’re going to put together a group that’s very capable of that.
A lot of things need to go into that. We need to come together as a group we need to play to our potential. I have no doubt that that’s what the players will do. Sometimes you need a little bit of luck, but we certainly think that we’re going to have a sport that’s capable of reaching the final.”