By Finau Fonua
Two changes have been made to the ‘ikale Tahi team that faced Argentina last weekend, as they prepare to play France tomorrow, Sunday 28 September, in Kumamoto, Japan.
Osprey’s prop Ma’afu Fia will replace Ben Tameifuna, while former NRL star and now Newcastle Falcon’s winger Cooper Vuna will replace Viliami Lolohea. The team is optimistic about repeating Tonga’s 2011 upset over France. Veteran ‘Ikale Tahi players Siale Piutau and Sione Kalamafoni were part of that 2011 team who achieved what is, perhaps, Tonga greatest Rugby Union victory to date.
Head Coach Toutai Kefu said in a statement yesterday that he was encouraged by the improvement in performance shown by the ‘ikale Tahi over the last two weeks, and that they were determined to make an impression against France.
“This side has improved with every aspect of Rugby over the last two World Cup matches and we are focusing on lifting the ‘Ikale Tahi standard across the board. This week presents us with another huge challenge in France. A strong Six Nations team that has a rich history at the Rugby World Cup.
“France is a quality team, with a strong pack and threats all over the park, and we saw from their match against Argentina that they are a team that can perform under pressure.”
“As a team, we’re looking forward to this match and continuing to put out a performance the people of Tonga can be proud of.”
Meanwhile, France have announced their team with numerous changes to their squad who defeated the United States 33 – 9.
‘Ikale Tahi team to face France, 6 October.
- Siegfried Fisi’ihoi (Pau, Fra)
- Paula Ngauamo (Agen, Fra)
- Ma’afu Fia (Ospreys, Eng)
- Sam Lousi (Wellington Hurricanes, Nzl)
- Halaleva Fifita (Grenoble, Fr)
- Sione Kalamafoni (Leicester, Eng))
- Zane Kapeli (Bay of Plenty, NZL)
- Maama Vaipulu (Castres, Fra)
- Sonatane Takulua (Newcastle Falcons, Eng)
- James Faiva (Silverstorm El Salvador, Spain)
- David Halaifonua (Coventry, Eng)
- Siale Piutau (Bristol Bears, Eng)
- Malietoa Hingano (Bayonne, Fr)
- Cooper Vuna (Newcastle, Eng)
- Telusa Veainu (Leicester, Eng)
- Sosefo Sakalia (Asia Pacific Dragons, Singapore)
- Vunipola Fifita (ACT Brumbies, Aus)
- Siua Halanukonuka (Glasgow, Scot)
- Sitiveni Mafi (Castres, Fra)
- Nasi Manu (Treviso, Ita)
- Leon Fukofuka (Auckland, NZL)
- Latiume Fosita (Asia Pacific Dragons, Singapore)
- Atieli Pakalani (Eastwood, Aus)
- Jefferson Poirot
- Camille Chat
- Rabah Slimani
- Paul Gabrillagues
- Sebastien Vahaamahina
- Wenceslas Lauret
- Charles Ollivon
- Gregory Alldritt
- Baptiste Serin
- Romain Ntamack
- Alivereti Raka
- Sofiane Guitoune
- Virimi Vakatawa
- Damian Penaud
- Maxime Medard
- Guilhem Guirado
- Cyril Baille
- Emerick Setiano
- Bernanrd Le Roux
- Yacouba Camara
- Antoine Dupont
- Camille Lopez
- Pierre-Louis Barassi.