Tonga rugby league coach Kristian Woolf says he can now plan the next two years with certainty after qualifying for the 2017 World Cup.
The Mate Ma'a beat the Cook Islands 28-8 in a winner-takes-all qualifying match earlier this month to claim the final World Cup berth in the Asia-Pacific region.
Kristian Woolf admits his players were nervous leading up to the game, with so much hinging on the result.
He says there is a lot of really good young Tongan talent coming through the ranks and, with qualification now in the bag, they can now spend the next couple of years building the squad in time for the main event.
"We obviously want to get those guys playing for Tonga and we want to make sure they have the best opportunity to play at their best for the World Cup. The next two years allows us to really sort of plan for that, in particular financially with some sponsorship and how we can get some income coming into the group. That's really important in terms of in being able to do things that the bigger teams do in terms of preparation but also being able to give the players some financial kickback for their commitment. That's something that we haven't been able to do a lot of since my involvement and something that we'd certainly like to start doing".
Kristian Woolf says the bulk of the squad has indicated they're committed to Tonga in the lead-up to the World Cup.