Tongan players touted for proposed State of Origin series to be played in empty stadium

Tongan player Jason Taumalolo has been  touted as a possible starter for a Queensland side in a series of state of origin matches, even while the Covid-19 pandemic is raging.

The matches would be played with no fans present.

The Skilled Stadium on the Gold Coast has been named as a possible venue for a three match series.

New South Wales coach Brad Fittler has pushed the idea of a series of State of Origin games to start the rugby and has named Taumalolo as a possible member of the Maroons.

Other players Fittler has tentatively names include Andrew Fifita, Will Hopoate and Siosiua Taukeiaho.

A test by the Tongans against New Zealand that was scheduled for June 20 this year has been cancelled because of the pandemic.

Rugby League officials have postponing the mid-season Oceania Cup fixtures, which also featured  Samoa and the Cook Islands

However, Oceania Tests are still scheduled for October.

New Zealand is in strict lockdown and with international travel almost a standstill. Flights in and out of Tonga are virtually nonexistent.

Despite the obstacles, Fittler is enthusiastic about the idea.

“I’ve spoken to some of the players about it and they’re already pumped,” the NSW coach told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“The Origin series would be a good way of kicking things off, to show everyone that rugby league can lock down two teams for an extended period. And if that works, it could be a precursor to the rest of the NRL starting at some stage.”

The players

Taumalolo plays for the North Queensland Cowboys but in the past three years has been instrumental in taking Mate Ma’a Tonga onto the international stage.

Fifita, who has had an often tumultuous career, led the sipi tau, in front of a sold-out crowd at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium before their match against the Kangaroos in 2018.

In 2017 Hopoate played for Tonga in every game of their assault on the Rugby League World Cup semi-finals and scored a try during their win over New Zealand.

On 2 November 2019, Taukeiaho captained Tonga’s 16-12 defeat of Australia.

The main points

  • Tongan player Jason Taumalolo has been  touted as a possible starter for a Queensland side in a series of state of origin matches, even while the Covid-19 pandemic is raging.
  • New South Wales coach Brad Fittler has touted the idea of a series of State of Origin games to start the rugby and has named Taumalolo as a possible member of the Maroons.

For more information

Fittler backs Origin to restart season – and Taumalolo for Queensland

https://www.smh.com.au/sport/nrl/fittler-backs-origin-to-restart-season-and-taumalolo-for-queensland-20200403-p54gwc.htm

Test matches postponed due to coronavirus

https://www.nrl.com/news/2020/03/20/tests-matches-cancelled-due-to-coronavirus/

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