Addin Fonua-Blake, Andrew Fifita, Will Hopoate and Jason Taumalolo.

Mate Ma'a Tonga coach Kristian Woolf says the loss of star prop Andrew Fifita to suspension will have no bearing on his team's performance against New Zealand on Saturday.

After being named in Tonga's squad, Fifita was unsuccessful in his bid to have a grade two dangerous contact charge downgraded at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday.

While acknowledging Fifita's impact couldn't be replicated, Woolf said his side won't be steering away from their original plan.  

"It doesn't change anything from our point of view," Woolf said.

"Obviously Andrew is such a big name in the NRL competition because of how he plays every single week, and he's a big loss for us, there's no way around that.

"But at the same time Addin Fonua-Blake has been going outstandingly for Manly, he's playing some really good minutes there and having an impact for them.

"Young Junior Tatola who comes into the side ... he's been really good for Souths this year. He's started almost every game and they're a side that's been sitting in the top three of the competition all year.

"While you feel like sometimes you lose something with a high-profile player like Andrew [out], those other guys are going to come in and certainly give us their best effort and bring their owns strengths and skillsets as well.

"I've got full confidence in what those blokes are going to bring."

Cowboys forward Jason Taumalolo, who is tipped to captain Tonga on Saturday at Mount Smart Stadium, said the team is starting to reap the rewards of time spent together.

Match: New Zealand v Tonga

Round 1 -

Full Time
New Zealand

Home Team

New Zealand

Scored 34 points

Away Team


Scored 14 points

Venue: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland

Match broadcasters:

  • GEM
  • Foxtel

Tonga have the same coach and have 10 players in their squad for Saturday who took part in their victory over the Kiwis in the 2017 World Cup, while New Zealand have just six remaining players and have switched coaches from David Kidwell to Michael Maguire.  

"A fair few of the squad from that World Cup are still together ... we have had many camps over the last few years and we came into camp this week and it felt like we never left," Taumalolo said.

"That's one thing that I always enjoy about camp, the camaraderie we have.

"I think [that's an advantage for us], but at the end of the day it's what we do on the field."

Maguire said the inclusion of senior playmakers Benji Marshall and Kieran Foran had boosted their preparations.

"Having people like Benji and Kieran, to add to Jared [Waerea-Hargreaves], Jesse [Bromwich], Dallin [Watene-Zelezniak], it's about utilising that now for tomorrow's game," Maguire said.

"I think across the team I have got a strong blend of leaders.

"Kieran's an exceptional player, I have always admired him, and to have him in camp now, especially in the headspace he is in ... long term he's going to help us in a big way.

"The boys have come in and pretty well started where we left off.

"It's something I have been really impressed with, how they have come together, and the senior players have really controlled what we are doing.

"A number of young guys have come in and really jumped on the back of that, which has been really impressive."