Students gear up for 'special' clash in Tonga

THE Queensland Universities team will put State pride on the line on Thursday when they meet their NSW counterparts in a special clash in the Pacific nation of Tonga.


Nuku'alofa, the capital of Tonga, is an unusual spot for the annual university clash to take place.


But after the success of the recent win by the Australian Universities team at the World Cup in England, the decision was made to make the game part of another celebration of rugby league.


The Queensland and NSW university teams will be part of a four-team mini-tournament this week that will celebrate the 25th anniversary of rugby league in Tonga.


Two teams from the local Tongan competition have been selected and will play each other on Thursday, after which the two Australian teams meet.


Two days later the two winners and the two losers of those games will meet as the code marks its history in Tonga.


The senior Tongan squad for this month's Rugby League World Cup in Europe will join the day of celebration in Nuku'alofa, with their mostly NRL-quality squad sure to be a huge hit with fans.


But for the Queensland team it is all about performing well against NSW.


The Maroons' students have been chosen exclusively from the University Rugby League Qld competition that finished last month.


The Griffith Logan Redbacks beat the University of Queensland Hounds 24-20 in the grand final, and have justly dominated selection in the State side.


Former Souths Logan Queensland Cup coach Mark Gliddon is in charge of the Queensland team and said the approach would be simple.


"We really know nothing about NSW," he said.


"I think that makes our attitude to the match simple. We just need to worry about ourselves and what we need to do.


"We have had four training sessions in Australia before the tour, so that will help us quite a bit."


The Queensland Universities team will return from the tour next Monday.