Ma’afu Fia will link up with the Tonga national squad this week ahead of a busy summer of international rugby.
The tight head prop spent the first week of pre-season training at Llandarcy Academy of Sport, undergoing a series of physical tests, but has now headed to his homeland as Tonga prepare for Pacific Nations Cup (PNC) action, ahead of the Rugby World Cup (RWC) later this year.
First capped last November, against Wales at Principality Stadium, Fia could be involved in five test matches prior to the RWC getting underway in Sapporo in September.
Tonga kick-off their PNC campaign with a home game against Samoa on Saturday 27 July (3.00am UK) in Apia, before traveling to face Japan in Osaka a week later (Sat 3 Aug, 11.10am UK). They then round off their campaign on Friday 9th August against Canada in Lautoka, Fiji, with kick-off at 5.00am UK time.
Focus then switches to RWC preparation with two games in New Zealand, against Tonga at Eden Park in Auckland, at 4.30am (UK) on Saturday 31 Aug, before they face the All Blacks the following Saturday in Hamilton (3.35am UK).
Their RWC opener is against England on Sunday 22nd September. Tonga then face Argentina on Saturday 28th September and France on Sunday 6th October, before ending their campaign against the USA on Sunday 13th October.