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Tongans head for Warrington

Rugby League


There will be a distinct South Pacific flavour at Warrington by Christmas as yesterday's Fijian arrival, Manoa Thompson, is to be joined by two members of Tonga's World Cup squad.

The club has signed the winger, Mateaki Mafi, a former Tongan rugby union international who also clocked 10.3sec for the 100 metres at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

Although Mafi has only played a handful of games in rugby league and did not get on to the field during the World Cup, his pace puts him in the same bracket as Martin Offiah at his fastest.

Salesi Finau, who is primarily a centre, did figure in the tournament and scored a spectacular try in Tonga's match against New Zealand at Warrington. Both are expected to arrive next month after securing their work permits.

Thompson, who has extensive experience with South Sydney, Western Suburbs and Auckland Warriors, will be hoping to be well installed by then.

He will make his debut on the wing against Leeds tomorrow night, although he is equally at home at full-back and prefers centre to either.

"I have seen a lot of English matches on TV and it looks a brand of football I'd like to play in," he said.

"He has been recommended to us by John Monie at the Warriors and is an exciting player who knows his way to the try-line," Brian Johnson, the Warrington coach, said.

The club's vice-chairman, Bill Garrett, predicted that the three newcomers will capture the imagination locally.

"The Warrington public wants to see good rugby, stars and exciting players. We are quite willing to bring players from anywhere in the world to become part and parcel of the club and the town," he said.

Warrington have every prospect of reaching the semi-finals of the Regal Trophy after being drawn at home to First Division Rochdale Hornets.

The other First Division side, Widnes, host the holders, Wigan, while Carlisle of the Second Division are at Leeds. St Helens and Halifax meet in the one all-Championship clash, which is a likely choice for television on 9 December.

REGAL TROPHY Quarter-final draw: St Helens v Halifax; Leeds v Carlisle; Warrington v Rochdale Hornets; Widnes v Wigan. (Ties to be played 9 or 10 December).