The revolutionised Tonga outfit may soon face a fall from grace with reports suggesting players could consider boycotting the upcoming World Cup 9’s and Tests against Australia and Great Britain.
Growing disputes between the playing group and national board regarding the future of coach Kristian Woolf have caused cracks within the Mate Ma’a Tonga camp, with former Titans coach Garth Brennan understood to be appointed coach for the World Cup 9’s.
Reports also suggest Brennan could replace Woolf for the end-of-season Tests if the friction within the international club is failed to be resolved quickly.
The MMT playing group want the interim Tonga National Rugby League to finalise the verdict via an election and have cried out for the removal of chairman George Kolomatangi and secretary William Edwards.
The cracks have grown within the club over the last few weeks, with Tim Sheens and Trent Barrett both joining Brennan with being linked to the coaching job.
Former player and official John Hopoate added to the concerns on Thursday by posting on social media that Woolf had been advised to stand down from his post.
Hopoate, whose son Will is the MMT captain, said he was venting the frustrations of the playing group and that they were writing letters to the TNRL board in support of Woolf, who has been acknowledged as the catalyst to Tonga’s rise as an international powerhouse.
Hopoate added that the players may make themselves available for Australia and New Zealand for the post-season Oceania Cup.
“If this interim board think that they can come in and do this after all the hard work we have done to get the players to play for Tonga and to stay loyal to us they have got another thing coming,” Hopoate posted.
“Just finished speaking with the players and they are getting letters done up now. But if this board is still the board during the 9’s and the two Tests at the end of the year, and as a spokesman for the players, we will NOT be taking any part in any of the games.
“They are talking about going back to Australia and NZ too.”
The RLPA’s general manager of stakeholder relations Clint Newton has offered support for the playing group after being made aware of the situation.
RLIF Southern Hemisphere general manager Jeremy Edwards added: “It’s a matter for the Tongan board and we just hope this matter is resolved quickly.”