On Thursday the RFL announced that Leigh will be the base for the Tonga national team during the 2013 RL World Cup campaign, and stars of Miners and East past were at the Sports Village Stadium to toast the good news. Former Tongan internationals Tau Liku and Lee Hansen joined up with Centurions’ coach Paul Rowley, player John Duffy, LSV Chief Executive Simon Toon and RL Service Area officer Martin McLoughlin as the announcement was made.
Both islanders played for Leigh during their distinguished professional careers and both represented Tonga at the 1995 World Cup. Lee went on to play for Leigh East for a number of years whilst Tau made a couple of appearances for Miners in the 2000-1 season. Tau said “I played for Leigh and all my family are settled here so it is amazing to find out that Tonga will be playing at Leigh Sports Village – It will be like being at home! It is a great opportunity to show Leigh a bit of Tonga and I’m looking forward to a good World Cup for Tonga”.
The Friendly Islands will be based at Leigh as their training camp during the tournament and will play their group game, a South Pacific clash against Cook Islands, at the Sports Village Stadium. Cook Islands were the last team to play a World Cup game at the old Hilton Park, when they put a half century on Russia in the 1995 Emerging Nations tournament.