Innaugural Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett will join the Tongan coaching staff for an upcoming one-off Test against New Zealand, with North Queensland Cowboys assistant Dean Young to take over as head coach.
Regular head coach Kristian Woolf, who is in charge of St Helens at English Super League level, is unable to travel to New Zealand for the test, meaning he will have to watch on from afar.
No Super League players will be able to make the trip down under for the representative weekend either, with the timing of the two competition's not working out this time.
While Woolf will have his attention firmly set on the end of year Rugby League World Cup with Tonga, to be held in England, former St George Illawarra Dragon and current Cowboys assistant coach Young will take over the Tongan side in a head coaching capacity, joined by Bennett and former Tongan star Sika Manu in the coaches box.
Young played under Bennett during his time at the Dragons, with the duo part of the club's drought-breaking premiership in 2010 when they managed to beat the Sydney Roosters in the grand final.
The former hooker isn't the only player out of that team who has gone on to join the coaching ranks, with Ben Hornby a current assistant coach at the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Young had been in contention to take over the Dragons head coaching role before the club opted to bring in Anthony Griffin following the departure of Paul McGregor.
A statement released suggests Woolf will still have heavy involvement in selecting the team and in team meetings during the lead-up to the Test against New Zealand, to be held in Auckland on Saturday, June 25.
Woolf said he was excited by the coaching team Tonga had been able to put together in his absence.
“My commitment to St Helens and the inability of the representative and international weeks to line up in the two hemispheres means it is not possible to be in New Zealand for a week during the Super League season,” Woolf said.
“But we have been able to put together an amazing coaching staff with Dean, Wayne and Sika.
“Dean has been an assistant on the Tongan team previously, and is one of the brightest young coaching prospects in the NRL. Sika was the captain of this team through a golden period, and understand the passion of the Mate Ma’a Tonga.
“And no-one has had more success in coaching rugby league than Wayne Bennett – having him there will be a great experience for both the players and the staff.
“This is a strong coaching staff for what will ultimately be a new-look Tongan team missing some players from the English Super League, who will be playing an important international Test while competing for spots in the World Cup squad.”
Tonga will select their team for the Test after Round 15 in the NRL ahead of the representative round.