Mate Ma'a fandom feverish ahead of Kangaroo clash

By Mānia Clarke

Tens of thousands of Tonga Mate Ma'a faithfuls will be cheering their team on to victory tonight as they take on the Kangaroo world champs.

Mate Ma’a fandom is feverish on the streets of South Auckland where their greatest fan base resides.

One supporter says the best players in the world are playing for Tongan team.

Another says, “Tonga's got more horsepower than Australia.  Australia's got no horses they only got kangaroos.”

One Tongan family has travelled from over the ditch to be at the game, but support is split.

“We're not sure actually 'cause we're a little bit divided 'cause we're Australian and Tongan...Australia's home but Tongan in heart,” says the Melbourne supporter.

Eighty percent of the 30,000 sold-out crowd at tonight's game are expected to be Tongan supporters, and for these locals, whether their team can create an upset win or not, they're still champions.

“We'll see,’ says the Melbourne supporter, “I think if the home crowd can get the boys over the line- we’re rooting for them.”

Tonight we'll see whether their predictions will come to fruition, however regardless of the result, supporters will be celebrating long after the game.