David Klemmer and Will Hopoate are content playing for free if it means the Australia v Tonga Test becomes a reality.
The hotly anticipated clash between the Kangaroos and Mate Ma’a is expected to be finally signed and sealed next week.
With the match largely expected to take place on October 20 at Mt.Smart Stadium, one of the final sticking points is how much the players will be paid.
The Kangaroos receive $20,000 a test against tier-one nations, namely New Zealand, but have rarely come up against a tier-two nation, such as Tonga, outside of a World Cup.
It has been accepted some of the game’s premier stars will earn less than $5000.
Klemmer and Hopoate, who represented Australia and Tonga respectively at the World Cup, are prepared to settle for a vastly smaller amount.
Klemmer will get the chance to compete in a warm up match against Tongan star Andrew Fifita when Canterbury try to ruin Cronulla’s top-four hopes on Sunday afternoon. The Bulldogs prop is so determined to feature in the Test against Tonga he is well prepared to hold off on surgery on his middle finger, which has been awkwardly bent since Good Friday.
“If it’s going to help grow the international game, I’m more than happy to play for free,” Klemmer told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I love playing footy and especially for my country. Tonga has a massive fan base; it would be exciting if I did get picked and got to play in the game. I’m only hearing about it via social media, but it would be big for the game if it happens.
“Australia and New Zealand is a big Test, it’s always a hard game. Tonga has come out of nowhere and set the world alight, and they’ve called us out. It would be good to go up against them because they have some stars in their side and want to play against the World Cup champions.
“[Fifita] is a tremendous player; what he does as a forward for Cronulla is pretty special. We need to come with our A game because we know what he’s capable of.”
Hopoate said running out for Tonga against the Kangaroos would be “very important for our people”.
“Whenever we play it unites us as a nation and to come up against the world’s best will be really good for us to see where we’re at and a thrill for people to watch,” he said.
Hopoate explained that he would be impressed by Kangaroos players if they were prepared to endure a massive pay cut for the good of the game itself.