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Rugby league’s Pacific revolution goes global after Tongan triumph | Patrick Skene

The growth in stature of Tonga, Fiji and Samoa has meant rugby league has become the new connective tissue for the region

As Australia worked through the seven stages of grief (with heavy doses of anger and denial) following Saturday’s defeat at Eden Park, Tonga experienced rugby league deliverance – a seminal, life-changing moment of shared hope in which the giant killing team had for the first time defeated Tier 1 heavyweights Great Britain and then the Kangaroos in consecutive weeks.

With multi-coloured floral lei’s draped around his neck, Tonga’s talisman Jason Taumalolo told the media it was bigger than winning the NRL premiership with the North Queensland Cowboys. His controversial decision to defect from New Zealand to Tonga for the 2017 World Cup had borne the sweetest fruit, etching him in folklore.

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