The Auckland premier team and the Tonga New Zealand Residents will vie for the Mann Cup when they meet at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday, June 2.

The Auckland Rugby League has named the trophy in recognition of the Mann family, who have contributed significantly to both the Auckland and Tongan game over several decades.

The match will serve as the headline act of the Queen’s Birthday Weekend representative showdown, which will also see the Auckland Maori U20 take on the Toa Samoa Invitational U20.

ARL general manager Greg Whaiapu said the trophy announcement added an historic element to a new concept.

“It’s nice to be able to pay tribute to the Mann family, who over the years have achieved everything there is to be done in Auckland league. They have been wonderful servants of the local game,” Whaiapu said.

“A big part of bringing the Auckland representative team back is about recognising and celebrating our history, and this family have certainly played a leading role in the Auckland Rugby League story, along with contributing greatly to the development of the game in Tonga.”

The late George Mann Senior is considered the godfather of Tongan rugby league, having formed the first ever Tongan national team in 1986, dubbing them ‘Mate Ma’a Tonga’ (die for Tonga).

His brother Don Mann Senior represented Auckland on numerous occasions across a 10-year period, captaining the famed representative side along with winning Player of the Year and Coach of the Year honours in the Auckland first division.

Between Don’s sons Duane and Bart, and George’s sons Warren, George Junior and Esau, the next generation went on to amass a number of appearances for both Tonga and Auckland, with Duane captaining both sides during his career.

For further information

Rugby league is “a sport for Tonga,” says Tongan pioneer

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