The Tongan national team has been given a huge boost in the weeks leading up to their crunch game against New Zealand, with the announcement that Wayne Bennett will be stepping down as coaching adviser.
Dean Young will take over as interim head coach to play in Auckland on Saturday 25 June, as Christian Wolf is in the UK due to his coaching duties with St Helens, who has won the last two Super League titles.
Former Storm and Panthers forward Sika Manu will also be part of the coaching team.
“My commitment to St. Helens and my inability to line up in the two hemispheres of representative and international week means that it is not possible to stay in New Zealand for one week during the Super League season,” Wolf said.
“But we’ve been able to put together an amazing coaching staff with Dean, Wayne and Seeker.”
Bennett previously coached the Kangaroos and the England national team, and Wolf said his squad would be safe for the only Test.
“Dean was previously an assistant to the Tongan team, and one of the brightest young coaching prospects in the NRL,” he said.
“Sika was the captain of this team through a golden period, and Met Ma Tonga can understand the emotion.
“And no one has been more successful in coaching rugby league than Wayne Bennett – he will be a great experience for both the players and the staff.”