World Cup - Team Guide: Tonga

Thu, 08 Sep 17:11:00 2011

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Tonga's players perform the haka - 0

TONGA

Colours: Red shirt, white shorts.

Nickname: ‘Ikale Tahi (Sea Eagles).

World ranking: 12.

Coach: ‘Isitolo Maka

The 36-year-old former All Blacks number eight has returned to his native country to coach the Sea Eagles for the 2011 World Cup, having spent all his playing career in New Zealand, Japan or France.

Squad:

BACKS Born Caps Tries Cons Pens DGs Pts

Alipate Fatafehi 13/12/84 7 4 0 0 0 20

Samisoni Fisilau 29/11/87 7 0 1 0 0 2

Viliami Helu 19/4/86 7 2 0 0 0 10

Suka Hufanga 18/6/82 22 4 0 0 0 20

Viliami Iongi 8/8/89 6 7 0 0 0 35

Vunga Lilo 28/2/83 21 9 0 4 0 57

Andrew Mailei 24/5/80 18 5 3 3 0 40

Taniela Moa 11/3/85 2 0 0 0 0 0

Kurt Morath 13/11/84 9 1 25 29 0 142

Tomasi Palu 23/9/86 3 0 0 0 0 0

Siale Piutau 13/10/85 2 0 0 0 0 0

Alaska Taufa 24/7/83 5 2 0 0 0 10

Fetu'u Vainikolo 30/1/85 2 1 0 0 0 5

FORWARDS

Halani Aulika 31/8/83 2 0 0 0 0 0

Taufa’ao Filise 26/5/77 15 1 0 0 0 5

Kele Hehea 1/2/79 16 2 0 0 0 10

Sione Kalamafoni 18/5/88 14 2 0 0 0 10

Lua Lokotui 31/12/79 5 0 0 0 0 0

Aleka Lutui 1/7/78 30 5 0 0 0 25

Vili Ma’afu 9/3/82 5 1 0 0 0 5

Ilaisa Ma’asi 5/2/82 7 1 0 0 0 5

Finau Maka 10/7/77 5 1 0 0 0 5

Kisi Pulu 31/1/78 23 2 0 0 0 10

Sona Taumalolo 13/11/81 4 2 0 0 0 10

Ephraim Taukafa 26/6/76 30 6 0 0 0 30

Sione Timani 3/9/84 4 0 0 0 0 0

Soane Tonga’uiha 21/1/82 8 0 0 0 0 0

Joe Tu’ineau 18/8/81 4 0 0 0 0 0

Samiu Vahafolau 24/4/78 10 2 0 0 0 10

Sione Vaiomo’unga 8/4/89 7 1 0 0 0 5

Key player: Kurt Morath.

The lethal boot of the 26-year-old New Zealand-born fly-half will be crucial if Tonga are to avoid last place in their pool, as he has scored an average of almost 16 points a game in his nine Tests.

2010-11 form:

8/6/11 v USA (Esher, England) W 44-13

2/7/11 v Fiji (Lautoka) W 45-21

9/7/11 v Japan (Suva) L 27-28

13/7/11 v Samoa (Lautoka) W 29-19

13/8/11 v Fiji (Lautoka) L 12-27

19/8/11 v Fiji (Lautoka) W 32-20

World Cup pedigree:

Group stage: 1987, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007.

Did not qualify: 1991.

Record: P17, W4, D0, L13.

Most appearances: Inoke Afeaki, Pierre Hola, Ephraim Taufaka, Viliami Vaki 8.

Most points: Hola 61.

Most tries: Hola, Sukanaivalu Hufanga, Sateki Tu'ipulotu, Vaki 2.

High:

The last tournament in 2007, which was Tonga’s best finals so far. Although they again fell at the group stage, they won two matches for the first time – 25-15 against the USA and 19-15 against Samoa – and also only lost 30-25 to eventual winners South Africa to finish third in their pool.

Low:

The 1991 tournament, which the Tongans failed to make – the one and only time they have not made the cut – after the Asian qualifying places went to Western Samoa and Japan.

Hero: Pierre Hola.

The key to Tonga’s fine performance at the 2007 World Cup with 44 points. The fly-half kicked seven conversions and 10 penalties to finish seventh in the tournament’s list of leading points-scorers.

Villain: Ngalu Taufo’ou.

The Tongan prop entered the World Cup hall of infamy for a forearm smash to the side of the head of England flanker Richard Hill in the Sea Eagles’ 101-10 rout at Twickenham in 1999.

2011 prospects:

The Tongans will have welcomed the competition from the Churchill Cup in June and Pacific Nations Cup in July, as their previous Test was way back in September. As a result, they may well finish bottom of their group again – as they did in 2003 and 1987.

Group matches:

9/9/11 v New Zealand (Auckland)

14/9/11 v Canada (Whangarei)

21/9/11 v Japan (Whangarei)

1/10/11 v France (Wellington)

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