Tui Lolohea nearly cried when he first heard Tongan hymns in a game

Drew Darbyshire

Tui Lolohea was close to crying the first time Tonga fans started singing hymns in a game.

The Salford half-back has earned 10 caps for the Mate Ma’a Tonga since making his international debut back in 2015.

Tonga has earned a reputation for their fanbase being one of the loudest and proudest in the international game – and Lolohea revealed he was close to tears when he first heard them singing hymns.

He said: “The Tongan fans make it special. I know from my experience, they give me energy when they start singing hymns.

“I remember when they first did and I got goosebumps after it. We scored a try and we were walking back to the sticks and I wanted to cry. It was really emotional but it was special.

“This is why we play rugby league and thats the passion they show. They are really supportive of the game itself.

“I remember when we lost to England at the World Cup, the Tongan fans stuck around after the game and celebrated with the English fans and it was just a celebration of rugby league in general.”

After a game, Tongan players are often seen with necklaces made out of a different selection of chocolate – but why is this?

Lolohea explained: “It is just a way of giving back really and saying thank you.

“Most of the time they are chocolates but I’ve seen crazy ones where they’ve put 10 cheeseburgers on as a necklace!

“They do flowers and chocolate mainly. It’s the biggest pile ever and its just a way of showing your appreciation really.”

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