Tonga's rugby team are hoping to play the role of spoilers tonight when they begin their brief pre-season tour of Australia against Super 15 newcomers the Melbourne Rebels.
The trial match is the first competitive fixture for the Rod Macqueen coached Rebels, who have games against Fiji and the Crusaders also pencilled in for the next few weeks.
Vinnie Wylie reports.
"The Technical Advisor for the Ikale Tahi, John McKee, says the two matches against Melbourne are a good opportunity for the coaching staff to have a close look at some local players, as well as those based in Australia and New Zealand. He says the team is continuing to develop its playing patterns leading into the Rugby World Cup, while for some players the matches will also provide a valuable build up to the Pacific Rugby Cup, which begins next month. John McKee says while the home team will have an advantage in big-name players and test experience he expects Tonga's combinations and time together to provide them with a stern challenge."