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The Tongan national team has been handed a huge boost ahead of its crunch game with New Zealand in a few weeks, with Wayne Bennett set to come into the fold as a coaching advisor.

Dean Young will serve as interim head coach for the game in Auckland on Saturday June 25, as Kristian Woolf remains in the UK due to his coaching duties with St Helens, the winner of the last two Super League titles.

Former Storm and Panthers forward Sika Manu will also be a part of the coaching team.

“My commitment to St Helens and the inability of the representative and international weeks to line up in the two hemispheres means it is not possible to be in New Zealand for a week during the Super League season,” Woolf said.

“But we have been able to put together an amazing coaching staff with Dean, Wayne and Sika.”

Bennett has previously been the coach of both the Kangaroos and the England national team, and Woolf said that his squad will be in safe hands for the one-off Test.

“Dean has been an assistant on the Tongan team previously, and is one of the brightest young coaching prospects in the NRL,” he said.

“Sika was the captain of this team through a golden period, and understand the passion of the Mate Ma’a Tonga.

“And no-one has had more success in coaching rugby league than Wayne Bennett – having him there will be a great experience for both the players and the staff.”



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