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The Chairman of the Tongan National Rugby League, George Koloamatangi has announced that Frank Endacott from New Zealand has been named as Head Coach for the games against Great Britain and Australia in the upcoming Oceania Series to be played in New Zealand late October / early November this year.
Endacott steps up to take over the position previously held by Kristian Woolf.
Koloamatangi recognised the contribution Woolf has made to Mate Ma’a Tonga but said it was time for a change and he was delighted that the Board was able to engage Frank for these two games.
This week, Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga called for a quick resolution to the crisis gripping Tonga Rugby League as coach Kristian Woolf throws his support behind a potential strike by the players.
Leading Tonga players demanded that the interim Tonga National Rugby League board hold an election and threatened to withdraw from selection for the World Cup 9s in October and Tests against Australia and Great Britain should chairman George Kolomatangi and secretary William Edwards remain in their positions.
Former Titans coach Garth Brennan has been touted as a possible successor to Woolf as a reported dispute over financial decisions made by the interim board has cast doubt over Woolf's continued tenure.
Thrust into a caretaker role at the Knights following the sudden departure of Nathan Brown, Woolf is the front-runner to replace Gold Coast-bound Justin Holbrook as coach of St Helens and is credited with Tonga's emergence.
He provided an environment that convinced the likes of Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita to pledge allegiance to Tonga over Tier 1 nations and orchestrated an historic win over New Zealand at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
A major driver of an enhanced international program that will see Great Britain play Tonga and New Zealand in New Zealand later this year, Meninga hopes that the standoff between Tonga Rugby League administration and players will be resolved soon.
"I believe there's an AGM on Friday. Hopefully, that's all resolved quickly and then we get on with the international programme," Meninga told NRL.com.
"They're really important to the development of the international game, particularly throughout the Pacific.
We've got the Oceania Cup coming up which is significant for them because they've got Great Britain coming over. Hopefully, it all gets resolved next Friday."
Following Newcastle's 54-10 defeat at the hands of the Panthers on Sunday, Woolf did not want to go into detail with regards to the dispute, only to say that he is supportive of the stance taken by players.
"The only thing I will say is that 100 per cent I support the players," Woolf said.
"What they're doing is the right thing, in terms of going forward, and I'll back them in whatever action they want to take there."
A full-strength Tonga team would be a strong contender to take out the inaugural Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s tournament on October 18-19.
From an Australian perspective, Meninga is already formulating what a potential Kangaroos team will look like.
Ruling out anyone who participates in the Telstra Premiership grand final, Meninga said that rather than any experimenting, the best players available will represent the Kangaroos at Bankwest Stadium.
"I always view the Aussie team with our best players," said Meninga.
"We'll see what happens over the course of the next four weeks with regards to the finals.
"I'm not going to play anyone that plays in the grand final because we have to look after the welfare of the players.
"But we'll pick our best team that's available at the time.
"The big blokes probably miss out because there's obviously a lot more space but I still feel that we play it as a 13s.
"That's why I like the Nines concept, you've still got to earn the respect to go wide so you still need to have your middle third going forward. You still need to create quick play-the-balls. All the things you do in 13s still applies in the Nines."..
SOURCE: TONGA RUGBY LEAGUE/NRL/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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