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Storm, Warriors to dedicate trial to Tonga

Jahrome Hughes of the Melbourne Storm set up four tries in the round seven NRL clash with the New Zealand Warriors Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Melbourne and the Warriors have announced their upcoming NRL trial game will serve as a fundraiser for communities in Tonga impacted by last weekend's volcanic eruption.

The Unite for Tonga match will take place at Casey Fields in Victoria on February 19 and is set to feature several players of Tongan descent.

Storm pair Felise Kaufusi and George Jennings have Tongan heritage while the Warriors' contingent includes Addin Fonua-Blake, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Eliesa Katoa, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Taniela Otukolo and Viliami Vailea.

Tickets for the clash will go on sale on Friday, with fans having the option to make a direct donation.

Further initiatives will be announced closer to game day.

"Tongans have a proud history in rugby league and with Storm," Melbourne CEO Justin Rodski said.

"We are honoured to be able to join with our friends at the Warriors for this special Unite for Tonga match to do what we can to help in this time of need.

"The full details of the destruction and impact of the eruption on the people of Tonga is still unfolding, but we want to make sure we have done our bit to support the island community as they look to rebuild.

"We hope the Melbourne Storm and New Zealand Warriors fans can dig deep to support the initiatives we have in place and that life in Tonga can return to normal as quickly as possible."

Due to COVID-19 protocols, a maximum crowd of 8000 can attend the game.

The devastation in Tonga caused by the volcanic eruption has sparked strong support from the rugby league fraternity.

More than 45 per cent of NRL players are of Polynesian heritage, including Tongan stars Jason Taumalolo, Andrew Fifita, Tevita Pangai Jnr and Fonua-Blake.

The nation's rise to becoming an international powerhouse has been one of the game's great stories.

Led by Taumalolo, Tonga reached the semi-finals of the 2017 World Cup and they have defeated both Australia and New Zealand in the ensuing years.

Warriors CEO Cameron George said on Sunday that his club had started working on a relief package for the Pacific nation.

"Our hearts go out to Tonga and especially to the families and communities suffering at this difficult time," George said.

"Tonga and its people have always held a very special place for us and always will.

"A number of players in our current squad have immediate family or wider family in Tonga. They're feeling for them right now and so is everyone associated with the club.

"Throughout our history we've had strong ties with Tonga through a large number of former players and staff and also our support base."