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‘I don’t know anything’: Warriors star Eliesa Katoa anxiously waiting on call from his mother in Tonga


Like so many Tongans around the world, worried Warriors star Eliesa Katoa just wants his phone to ring.

Katoa, who turned 22 earlier this month, has not been able to reach his mother, who resides in the village of Koulo on Lifuka Island, since Friday.

That was just after the underwater volcano Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai erupted for the first time. But since the second and much larger event late on Saturday – that triggered tsunami waves and covered parts of Tonga with ash – all phone and internet communication has ceased due to power outages and damage to the main undersea communications cable.

Eliesa Katoa said training with the Warriors on Monday was difficult given the unknowns in Tonga.

Albert Perez/Photosport

Eliesa Katoa said training with the Warriors on Monday was difficult given the unknowns in Tonga.

“After that phone call, that was the last time,” Katoa told Stuff on Monday. “I haven’t heard anything from them since.

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“It’s got me worried all the time, I can’t wait for them to call me.”

Despite the scary situation, Katoa was taking comfort from the fact his mother Akanesi and the rest of the family had left their home before the second eruption, on Saturday, but feared the family home could be damaged.

The Tongan-born forward said training with the Warriors on Monday was “quite hard”, with so many unknowns back in Tonga.

Eliesa Katoa is one of the most promising young players in the Warriors system.

Matt King/Getty Images

Eliesa Katoa is one of the most promising young players in the Warriors system.

“They got told to move inland because they are very close to the water,” he said of the last phone call he had with his family.

“I don’t know what will happen to the house but I’m sure they will be safe.”

Due to hearing so many differing reports about the impact of the tsunami on the islands of Tonga and the village of Koulo, Katoa said it was difficult to trust them and wanted to hear from his family to get a first-hand account.

“That’s why it would be good to hear from our families to see how they are going and how our villages are going.

“I’m still waiting for them to contact me,” Katoa said. “I don’t know anything.”

Many Warriors players, such as Mate Ma’a Tonga representative Ben Murdoch-Masila (above) have family and friends in Tonga.

Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

Many Warriors players, such as Mate Ma’a Tonga representative Ben Murdoch-Masila (above) have family and friends in Tonga.

“Everything is down, the phones, electricity, everything is down.”

With aid on its way, Katoa was optimistic limited phone communication could be back up and running soon.

The Warriors have Mate Ma’a Tonga internationals Addin Fonua-Blake and Ben Murdoch-Masila in their squad and hooker Taniela Otukolo was born in Tonga but as far as Katoa was aware, it was only rookie centre Viliami Vailea and himself that have parents and siblings in Tonga.

But many players in the Warriors squad have extended family and friends scattered around the islands of Tonga.

Warriors hooker Taniela Otukolo is one of three current Warriors players who were born in Tonga.

David Neilson/Photosport

Warriors hooker Taniela Otukolo is one of three current Warriors players who were born in Tonga.

Warriors chief executive Cameron George said the entire squad and staff were feeling for the nation that has held such a close association with the club.

“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,” George said.

The Warriors began working on a relief package for Tonga on Sunday.

“We’re committed to putting together a number of initiatives to provide support in critical areas and I know our players want to do what they can as well.”



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