Exclusive: Tui Lolohea opens up on the growing rivalry between England and Tonga

Huddersfield Giants halfback Tui Lolohea has expressed his belief that a new rivalry is starting to brew between England and Tonga as the two sides head into their third and final test with a score to settle.

The three test series has been full of action both on and off the pitch, and Lolohea suggested that the close nature on the pitch this series- as well as the 2017 World Cup semi-final- has helped flesh out a new rivalry between the sides.

Speaking exclusively to Serious About Rugby League before the third test, Lolohea said: “Yeah you could probably say that [a rivalry is forming]. I think over the years there has been some really good Rugby League played since that 2017 World Cup.

He added: “I’ve said before that I feel like the games have been quite close, physical games. It would be nice if we can continue to play against top tier nations, that’s what our goal is.

“I feel like we’ve moved in the right direction, the more international games we can get against quality teams, the better for our country.”

Tonga’s historic tour has seen them become the first tier two nation tour England and whilst both games so far have ended in defeat the Tongan side have pressed England at times, during conditions that certainly favour the home team.

Lolohea’s side come into the final test already 2-0 down in the series, but he told Serious About Rugby League that a win this weekend would still be ‘massive’.

“[A win would be] massive for us,” he said.  “We’re not throwing in the towel.”

“I think this week we’ve prepared really well. Training’s been really good. Conditions have been pretty poor in the rain and that for the whole week but today’s a lovely day. We’re looking forward to tomorrow and we are prepared to play.”

Reflecting on the series in general, the Huddersfield playmaker added: “Probably disappointing in the results, but I think as a squad, the campaign so far has been pretty good. I think training’s been pretty professional and everyone’s come in quite fit, so we are looking to get a win.”

During the interview with he expressed his belief that the series will help grow the International game, stating: “I hope so, I really hope so. It was obviously a bit hard being away from family and stuff like that playing on the other side of the world, hopefully it’s a step in the right direction and we do get more international fixtures.”