Manly star Manase Fainu has turned down a chance to play for New Zealand so he can represent Tonga instead.
The 20-year-old hooker or utility was born and raised in Australia but is of Maori descent on his mother’s side and Tongan on his father’s side.
Fainu has been in fine form for the Sea Eagles this term and is set to line up against the Kiwis after being named in the Tonga Mate Ma’a squad for next Saturday’s opening match of the Oceania Cup.
On his decision to opt for Tonga rather than New Zealand, Fainu told NRL.com: “My first option is Tonga so I’ve spoken to Kristian [Woolf] and told him how I feel.
“I’ve spoken to Madge [Michael Maguire]. He called me and I told him I would love to play for Tonga.
“If I don’t get picked [for Tonga], I’ll just wait – because I don’t want to go to New Zealand as second choice. That would be disrespectful to them.”
Fainu’s decision to choose Tonga means he can still represent New South Wales and Australia further down the line under the international eligibility rules.