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The best of the best are on their way

It's official, some of the world's rugby league best are coming to the Cassowary Coast to play a warm-up game prior to the Rugby League World Cup. First held in 1954 this year is its 15th iteration and 14 men's and 6 women's teams will battle it out in games played in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Tonga in the past has been hampered by the defection of players to tier one nations, Australia and New Zealand, but there is excitement in the camp like never before with both Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita playing for Tonga this year.

The rugby league world gasped when Jason Taumalolo, regarded as one of the best forwards in the game, said no to the Kiwi's and yes to Tonga in his quest to give developing nations an even footing when they take on the one tier teams.

Taumalolo said: "I just feel that it's time to give back and hopefully I can assist and inspire young Tongan players to chase their NRL goals."

Mayor of Cassowary Coast Regional Council Cr John Kremastos said: "Jason's commitment to play for Tonga, the birth place of both his parents, resonates with the people of the Cassowary Coast as many of our young men have gone on in their rugby league careers and made it to the greater rugby league stage and still call Innisfail home - Billy Slater, Scott Bolton, Ty Williams and Kerry Boustead."

Italy's head coach Cameron Ciraldo said he was looking forward to the warm-up game against Tonga in Innisfail next Friday night prior to the World Cup with Mark Miniciello as captain and James Tedesco as his deputy.

Tedesco will take to the field for Italy after being hedged out of the Australian side by Innisfail's Billy Slater. Tedesco winning the RLPA Player's Champion award as the best player in NRL, according to his peers, had the Italy team thinking he would be a surety for the Australian squad.

Tedesco wasn't deterred -- he immediately rang Italian Coach Cameron Ciraldo and asked, "When do I start?"

The PNG Orchids will be playing in their first ever World Cup event and have been looking for opportunities to test themselves and look forward to their game against the Mayor's Invitational side, which is made up of players from North Queensland representative teams. The PNG Orchids last month had a game against the Jillaroos and are looking forward to more time on the field to hone their skills before the World Cup.

Cr Kremastos said: "There have been many months of preparation and hard work gone into this event by not only Council but the Innisfail Leprechauns and Tully Tigers committees and we can't thank them enough for their support.

"The Cassowary Coast Regional Council is hosting a number of events in the region to give the community as many opportunities as possible to meet some of the footy greats, and yes, you just may be dining out in Innisfail and find Jason Taumalolo or James Tedesco sitting at the table next to you.

"Not only will they be travelling around the Cassowary Coast, they will also attend a meet and greet and hosting open training sessions. It's not every day the residents of the Cassowary Coast get the chance to see this calibre of athlete doing what they do best."

Cassowary Coast is rugby league country and Council is proud to be able to bring such a world class event for the community to enjoy.

Wednesday 18th October, 2017

Meet and Greet

Italian and Tonga Teams


Tully Showgrounds

Food and Drinks on sale with proceeds to Tully Tigers


Thursday 19th October, 2017

Open Training Session


Tully Showgrounds



Open Training Session


Callendar Park, Innisfail



Friday 20th October, 2017

International Exhibition Rugby League Games

Callendar Park, Innisfail

4.00pm Gates Open

5.00pm State vs State (Italian Heritage)

6.30pm PNG Orchids vs Mayor's Invitational

8.00pm Italy vs Tonga

$8 Adults

$4 Aged Pensioners

$2 Concession (5-15 years)

Food and Drinks on Sale


Tonga Media Contact - Trad McLean 0412 237 090

Italian Team - Reno Santaguida 0400 640 401

International Development Manager NRL - Tas Baitieri 0412 125 890