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Last Updated: Monday, 3 September 2007, 22:08 GMT 23:08 UK
Tonga RWC team guide
A one-stop guide to all you need to know about Tonga for the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

Fixtures (Pool A):

  • v USA - 12 September, 1300 BST, Montpellier
  • v Samoa - 16 September, 1500 BST, Montpellier
  • v South Africa - 22 September, 1300 BST, Lens
  • v England - 28 September, 2000 BST, Paris

    Recent form: After losing out to Fiji and Samoa in Oceania qualifying, came through the repechage system by overwhelming the Cook Islands and Korea. Thrashed by Samoa and beaten by Japan at this year's Pacific Nations Cup, but did manage a first victory in Fiji for 14 years.

    Coach: Quddus Fielea took over in March when Adam Leach resigned amid a financial crisis at the Tonga RFU. Fielea had to postpone naming his 30-man squad while the Tongan Supreme Court ordered the union to hold an annual general meeting to resolve ongoing differences.

    Captain: A doughty lock or blind-side flanker, Inoke Afeaki plays for Grenoble in France. Now 34, he is appearing at his third World Cup having played in 1995 and also captained the side in Australia four years ago.

    World Cup pedigree: Qualified for four of the five previous World Cups, missing out in 1991, but have never made it past the pool stages.

    World Cup high: Only ever won two matches, and one of those was against the Ivory Coast in 1995, a game overshadowed by an incident which left Ivory Coast wing Max Brito paralysed. So the 28-25 victory over an emerging Italy in 1999 is as good as it's got.

    World Cup low: Pummelled 101-10 by England in 1999, and left the tournament in disgrace after a violent two-minute spell in which two Tongans picked up yellow cards (as well as Phil Vickery) and prop Ngalu Taufo'ou was sent off for a violent attack on England flanker Richard Hill.

    World Cup legend: Jonah Lomu. Who knows how they might have fared if the great Jonah had opted to play for the land of his parents' birth? But this squad does contain Lomu's first cousin, another 6ft 5in wing by the name of Seti Kiole.

    Present star: Otenili Langilangi. Formerly known as Nili Latu, the "Tongan Torpedo" is a dynamic open-side flanker who plays for Wellington Hurricanes in the Super 14 and played for New Zealand Under-19s before reverting to his native land.

    Maverick: Scrum-half Soane Havea heads to France from the unlikely surroundings of Stourbridge, who he turns out for in England's National League Two, having previously had a stint with the Pertemps Bees in National League One.

    Enforcer: Flanker Finau Maka, whose brother Isotola plays alongside him for Toulouse, hits opponents hard, on the charge or in defence. Centre Epi Taione, who also played for Newcastle, left Sale last year after copping an 18-week ban for biting Munster's Denis Leamy in a Heineken Cup tie.

    Strengths: Aggressive, tough-tackling approach can often unsettle sides intent on trying to play a wider game.

    Weaknesses: Aggressive approach can often leave them with men in the sin-bin when the tackling radar goes too high. Not known for their subtlety in the backs either.

    Did you know? Scrum-half Soane Havea's full name is Soane Patita Pat Boone Sioape Havea. His parents are presumably fans of popular 1950s American singer Pat Boone.

    World Cup base: Clapiers (from 3 September)

    They say: "We are focused on the players and the World Cup, and I just hope for the support of everyone."
    Sangster Saulala, Tongan rugby board chairman

    You say: "Man...this is the pool of bruises and injuries. Four physically strong teams." (walkingInMud)

    World ranking: 14

    Odds: 1000/1

    Our verdict: Opening game against the USA is their 'World Cup final' and the only realistic hope of a victory. Which given their build-up, wouldn't be a bad effort.

    Ranking and odds correct at 26 August. Odds supplied by William Hill.



  • SEE ALSO
    Tonga reveal squad for World Cup
    10 Aug 07 |  Rugby Union
    Taione quits Sale after bite ban
    21 Feb 06 |  European Club
    Rugby union positions guide
    05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment
    Country profile: Tonga
    04 Jun 07 |  Country profiles


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