AAP Rugby

Fifita ready to make impact at Nines

By AAP Newswire

Andrew Fifita has said plenty about the state of rugby league in Tonga recently.

Now the outspoken NRL star has set his sights on letting his football do the talking when the Tongan invitational team battle in the inaugural World Cup nines.

After enduring a rollercoaster season for Cronulla, which included a premature exit from the finals, Fifita can only see smooth times ahead.

"I'm sweet. I'm ready to go. I played (Koori) knockout last weekend, so I know my game fitness is pretty good," Fifita said.

"I missed one game through injury this year. That was caused by a very hairy knock. But other than that, suspensions got the better of me."

The former Kangaroos and NSW State of Origin representative will certainly have his fitness tested in the spacious confines of the nines competition.

But Fifita is confident he has the natural instincts to make an impact.

"When you're talking about football, I'm not your average front-rower. I can put the half (number) on my jersey. I'm the new halfback for the Tongan team," he said.

"It's just some crafty footy.

"Our second phase is going to damage a lot of teams. And if you look at our forward pack, it's really our main focus is going to be the go-forward."

Tongan teammate Jason Taumalolo laughs at the thought of Fifita being a No.7.

"That body definitely doesn't say halfback. He's a pretty skilful player but I wouldn't say that skilful enough to be playing in the halves," he said.

The Tongan invitational team face the challenge of topping what Fifita dubbed the pool of death, with only one team advancing to the semi-finals.

They open the tournament against Samoa, before meeting Fiji and Cook Islands.

Fifita said the event was a chance for the fourth-ranked Test nation to further press its claims to be considered for tier-one status.

"We want to be the world's best. I know we're capable of doing that. We're quite excited to prove ourselves," he said.

"We were bursting all tier-two teams. You go back a couple of years ago and even last year we were versing tier-two teams and we were getting jobs done.

"Now it's time to step up with the tier-one. It's always been known as the big three and we just want to be up there with the world's best."