Victorious Tonga boss demands Cup equality

We've done the unthinkable - now give us the resources to build international rugby league into all it can be.

Tonga coach Kristian Woolf has called for all Test rugby league nations to exist on equal footing in the future after his side's World Cup upset of New Zealand.

Woolf's Mate Ma'a downed the Kiwis 28-22 in Hamilton on Saturday, becoming the first tier-two league nation in history to defeat a tier-one nation.

Their achievement is made all the more remarkable by the limited resources afforded to Pacific Island league nations, with the Tongan players expected to subsist on minimal match payments, a basic $30 per diem and no victory bonuses.

By comparison, players for tier-one sides Australia, New Zealand and England could make up to $50,000 throughout the five-week World Cup.

Woolf said it was impossible to "compare apples with apples" post-match, with players such as Jason Taumalolo representing Tonga for love, rather than money.

Only when benefits were equal across the board could nations such as Tonga or Samoa lure players in their own right, and constitute genuine threats.

"Our teams need to start getting some credibility, start getting more looked after, start getting some internationals and to cut it short, some finances," Woolf said.

"Once as a game we decide we're going to put some of these nations on equal terms, I think you'll see more and more of (these wins) happen.

"I'd really love to see the day when everything's equal, all the benefits are equal, and we really see international rugby league as truly competitive."

Finances aside, Woolf predicted more upsets in the future, with Fiji and Papua New Guinea both playing plenty of good World Cup footy to date.

The Bati will play the Kiwis in next week's Cup quarter final in Wellington, while Mate Ma'a will head to Christchurch for their likely Test against Lebanon.

Woolf backed his side to keep making global waves.

"One thing international rugby league gets a knock over is that Australia tend to win most things and it's always who's going to come second," Woolf said.

"What this says is that us, Samoa, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, we're not too far off the mark and those teams are really coming along with us."

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