Woolf’s Tonga gives Saints fans sign of things to come as Thompson injured in GB defeat

Great Britain's return to the international stage after 12 years away ended in defeat after an impressive Tonga Invitational XIII, coached by incoming Head Coach Kristian Woolf, ran out 14-6 winners in Hamilton, New Zealand.

Lachlan Coote and Luke Thompson both started the game, but in a bruising encounter, Thompson hobbled off 14 minutes and will be assessed by the Great Britain medical staff.

GB Lions Head Coach Wayne Bennett said on the Thompson injury: “I don’t think they [Thompson and Gildart] will play again in this series. Thompson has got a rib issue.”

Alex Walmsley and Jonny Lomax both appeared off the bench with our Player of the Year, Lomax replacing Coote at full back in the second half.

Former Saints Head Coach Mike McClennan was honoured before kick off via a minutes silence before Michael Jennings’ opening score and a stunning Sione Katoa try just before half-time put the Tongans 12-0 up at the end of a bruising first period before Suo Siua Taukeiaho’s penalty added another two points to the lead.

John Bateman’s try provided some hope, but it could not prevent the Lions’ four-game tour starting with a loss as incoming Saints boss Kristian Woolf perhaps showed a sign of things to come when he arrives in St Helens later this year.

What’s next?

Great Britain play the first of two Tests against New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday, 2 November (04:00 GMT kick-off).


Tonga Invitational XIII: Hopoate; Fusitu’a, Jennings, Hurrell, Tupou; Lolohea, Niu; Fonua-Blake, Havili, Taukeiaho, Murdoch-Masila, Ma’u, Taumalolo.

Interchanges: Fifita, Katoa, Asiata, Topouniua.

Great Britain: Coote; McGillvary, Hardaker, Gildart, Hall; Widdop, Hastings; Hill, Hodgson, Thompson, Bateman, Whitehead, Graham (capt).

Interchanges: Jones, Burgess, Lomax, Walmsley.

Referee: Chris Kendall

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