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NRL Grand Finalist Mateo In Tonga Team To Face Kiwis In Rotorua

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NRL Grand Finalist Mateo In Tonga Team To Face Kiwis In Rotorua

Auckland, New Zealand, October 08, 2009 - Parramatta utility Feleti Mateo is the headline act in Tonga's squad for its one-off Test against the world champion Kiwis at Rotorua International Stadium next Wednesday night (October 14).

Mateo is set to line up 10 days after being in the beaten Eels side in the 2009 NRL grand final against Melbourne last Sunday.

He also played against the Kiwis in last year's equivalent contest, a build-up match for both sides before the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.

At stake for the first time in that encounter was the Peter Leitch QSM Challenge Trophy, a trophy the Kiwis will defend next week and one which will be contested whenever the Kiwis play tests against Pacific nations.

While Mateo again gives Tonga a high-quality performer he's not the only player with NRL experience in the team coached by Rohan Smith, son of long-time NRL coach Brian Smith.

Apart from Mateo, Smith has a squad that also includes Manly winger Tony Williams, former Vodafone Warriors back rower and 2006-07 Kiwi Epalahame Lauaki, Newcastle second rower Richard Fa'aoso, Cronulla's Melbourne-bound Atelea Vea, Viliami Mataka (Wests Tigers), Etuate Uaisele (Parramatta) and 2009 rookie Warrior Ukuma Ta'ai. Ta'ai will become a double international after previously representing Tonga in test rugby. Also named are former NRL players now playing in England, ex-Warrior Tevita Leo-Latu (Wakefield) and Willie Manu (Hull FC).

Mateo, Latu, Fa'aoso, Manu, Lauaki, Williams, Uaisele and halfback Eddie Paea are among the group of players who appeared for Tonga at last year's World Cup.

A number of players have also been selected out of 2009 NYC sides including Warriors centre Siuatonga Likiliki - who also played one NRL match - and his team-mate Nafe Seluini. Other NYC players include Paki Afu (Bulldogs), Pita Maile (Melbourne) and Siosia Vave (Gold Coast).

The full squad is: Paki Afu, Richard Fa'aoso, Sam Huihahau, Toshio Laiseni, Tevita Leo-Latu, Epalahame Lauaki, Siuatonga Likiliki Pita Maile, Willie Manu, Viliami Mataka, Feleti Mateo, Eddie Paea, Nafe Seluini, Ukuma Ta'ai, Joel Taufa'ao, Sione Tovo, Etuate Uaisele, Siosia Vave, Atelea Vea, Tony Williams.

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