Tonga Head Coach Kristian Woolf believes his side can give the World Cup “a shake” and potentially reach the final.
The World Cup will now be going ahead in 2022, following Australia and New Zealand’s decision to withdraw amid the global pandemic.
Woolf’s Tonga side reached the semi-finals back in 2017. They managed to come back against England, but it proved too little too late.
Although it could have been different, had Andrew Fifita’s late effort had stood.
Since then, Tonga have beaten Great Britain and Australia in one-off matches. This raised them up to number four in the world.
Now Woolf believes his side are ready to go further in the World Cup.
Speaking to nrl.com, Woolf said: “We can achieve more than we did in 2017. It means I have no doubt whatsoever that we can get to a final.
“We also have the ability to be able to win the final. There are a lot of really strong teams, and you need a lot of things to go your way to do that.
“We have some terrific young players that over the last few years have become first graders. Over the next 12 months, they will be even stronger, having played 50-60 games in the NRL or the Super League.
“We’re going to be in an ever better position to put together a really strong side that has the ability to give the World Cup a shake. It is something for everyone to get excited about.”
World Cup schedule announced
Organisers have confirmed the rearranged schedule for the World Cup, which will take place in England next year.
Tonga were drawn into Group B, alongside Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands and Wales. Woolf will be in familar territory for two of the matches, as they play at the Totally Wicked Stadium, home of St Helens. Their final game will in Middlesbrough, at the Riverside Stadium.
The tournament will take place through October and November.