Tonga coach Kristian Woolf says he and his players are still waiting to find out if their friends and family have been affected by the devastating volcanic eruption.
The true extent caused by the huge explosion of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano on Saturday is not yet known. The country’s main undersea phone and internet cable has been severely hit, causing for connection to be lost.
St Helens boss Kristian Woolf has paid tribute to the club’s Tonga internationals Ignatius Paasi, Will Hopoate and Konrad Hurrell. He says they are handing the difficult situation in the best way they can.
Hurrell lost his mum in 2020 but his dad and relatives still live in the Kingdom of Tonga.
Woolf said: “Not knowing is probably the worst part of it. They all have really close connections back in Tonga and, in Konny’s case, he spent the majority of his life growing up there.
“It’s really tough circumstances for them, not being able to have any contact whatsoever with any of their family but they’ve all dealt with it exceptionally well.
“They’ve been able to come to work, put a smile on their faces and train really well and put that aside but I’m sure they’re thinking about it very definitely once they get home.
“It’s a really sad, tragic circumstance but we are such a tight-knit group, they’re well supported by their mates.
“All we can do at the moment, with the lack of information and communication that’s coming out of there, is have the people of Tonga in our thoughts and in our prayers.
“Whilst we understand there’s going to be a lot of devastation we hope there’s not a large loss of life.
“One thing I do know is that Tonga is full of very tough and very strong people and they will pull together and they will come through it.”
NRL community raises funds for Tonga
The rugby league community in the NRL have started to come together to raise funds for Tonga.
NRL sides Melbourne Storm and New Zealand Warriors will dedicate their pre-season trial game on February 19 to the people of Tonga.
The pre-season clash in Melbourne will raise funds for the communities affected by the volcanic eruptions and tsunami last Saturday.
South Sydney Rabbitohs say they will be standing alongside Tonga in round three of the season. A number of fundraising activities are in the pipeline for the Pacific island nation.
Hull KR prop Albert Vete waiting to find out news on family
Like St Helens’ Tongan trio, Hull KR prop Albert Vete is also waiting to hear news on the safety of his family.
Hull KR coach Tony Smith said: “He’s a little unsure still. Communication out of Tonga has been difficult. He’s still waiting to hear on some aspects of it.
“I had a good chat with him about it. He thinks his mum’s side of the family should be OK because where they come from is fairly inland. His father’s side of the family is coastal.
“He’s hoping that outcomes are good. It’s a tough situation, particularly the not knowing part for a family.”