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Locals Only For Tonga A

Locals Only For Tonga A
Team Tonga before getting ready for devotion at Peninsula Hotel in Suva last night. Photo: Paulini Ratulailai
March 10
09:08 2015

Exposing local players is top priority for Tonga A during the 2015 World Rugby Pacific Challenge which starts today.

Tonga A team manager Manu Mataele said the management’s objective of giving Tonga-based players the opportunity to compete internationally and be up for consideration for the Ikale Tahi.

“In the past, the team sent to previous competitions consisted largely of overseas-based players with the Ikale Tahi consisting almost completely of overseas-based players,”he said.

“The team sent to last year’s tournament was 99 per cent overseas-based with only one player from Tonga.

“We decided to change that this year because we saw that the local players were clearly being neglected and felt like they weren’t good enough to represent the country on the international stage.

“Initially there was some disagreement with the Tonga Rugby Union about our decision to select a team almost entirely of locals. We reached an agreement and this team is largely Tongan-based with about three from Australia and five from New Zealand.

“We wanted to give the local boys equal opportunity to show their skills, talent and ability and the chance to be exposed so that they gain more experience as well as contracts, because ultimately we want them to be able to have success and secure a means to earn a good living.”

Mataele revealed the Tongans’ goal was to win the tournament, which would benefit the Tongan campaign for the Rugby World Cup 2015.

“We’re looking forward to the tournament and all the boys are very excited.

“We’re hungry for a win and we believe this will boost the main team and get more of the boys into the World Cup squad.”

Mataele called on the Tongan community to come out in numbers to support the team during the tournament.

“We’re just asking that all of the Tongan community here to come out and support us.

“We know our fans are always there to provide that support we need and we’re looking forward to seeing our fans.”

Tonga A will play neighbour, and old-time rival, Samoa A at 3pm this afternoon at the ANZ Stadium in Suva.




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