Tonga rugby league coach Kristian Woolf says a number of players are racing against time to be fit for the World Cup, which kicks off at the end of October.
Backrowers Patrick Kaufusi and Tony Williams are likely to miss the global showpiece after both were injured in Tonga’s 26-24 Pacific Test win over Fiji in May.
Hooker Siliva Havili came through unscathed against the Bati but has since had undergone surgery after rupturing his pectoral.
Gold Coast Titans centre Konrad Hurrell watched on from the sideline, having last played for the Kingdom in 2015, while his former Warriors teammate Solomone Kata was also unable to add to his four test caps through injury.
Kristian Woolf remained hopeful the midfield duo would be fit to form a potent combination at the World Cup, which would help to offset the likely unavailability of Kaufusi, Williams and Jorge Taufua.
“We’ve got a few guys out, unfortunately, who are sort of walking a bit of tightrope with some injury, that I’d hope by the end of the season are back playing footy and back available obviously,” he said.
“But Konrad will certainly come into that squad, provided he’s healthy, as will guys like Solomane Kata, who was also unavailable with a hamstring injury in the May test.
“It was outstanding to have guys like Manu Vatuvei and Daniel Tupou, Will Hopoate – they were some real leaders for us and they played outstandingly as well”.
“We also got an opportunity to play some young guys like a (teenage centre from the Wests Tigers) Moses Suli, who I thought was terrific for us in that game,” Woolf reflected.
“He’s a really class player of the future and he’d be a great addition to come away in a 24-man squad, as much for his development as what he can offer us on the field”.
Tonga open their World Cup campaign against Scotland and also face Samoa and New Zealand in pool play.