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ANALYSIS: Testing Times For King And Country

ANALYSIS: Testing Times For King And Country
Maori King Tuheitia (left), with King Tupou VI of Tonga.
July 13
10:08 2015

Vodafone Flying Fijians head coach John McKee is expecting some tough times ahead of the Pacific Nations Cup over the next few weeks as he looks to continue preparations ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015 in England.

And the first challenge will come from the Ikale Tahi of Tonga this Saturday.

The island kingdom were in the spotlight recently during the coronation of King Tupou VI.

Among the dignitaries who attended was Maori King Tuheitia who flew straight from Nukua’lofa to Suva to watch the Maori All Blacks –Vodafone Flying Fijians test at the ANZ Stadium.

Such is the importance of oval ball game that even the royals want to be involved.

The Tongans would definitely want to win the PNC for king and country.

And there is no better person who knows the Friendly Islanders better than McKee, who was a member of the Tonga 2011 Rugby World Cup coaching staff who beat France 19-14.

“Tonga always have a very strong squad in RWC year and there is a fierce rivalry between the two countries on the rugby field.,” McKee said.

“I’m expecting very challenging games ahead.

“Samoa showed what a strong team they are in their strong performance against the All Blacks. Japan are the big improvers in the Pacific region with some very impressive results over the past 12 months.”

After Saturday’s test the Fijians will fly to North America to tackle Samoa in Sacramento and then Japan in Toronto with a further match in Burnaby on finals day.

After the 26-27 loss to the Maori All Blacks last Saturday, the Flying Fijians need to step up again, play with patience, execute skills and keep clear heads under the pressure of test match rugby.

The Tongans have also named a strong team comprising overseas-based players. Definitlely a game not to missed.

Tongan Squad

Forwards: Tevita Mailau, Sona Taumalolo, Soane Tonga’uiha, Siua Halanukonuka, Halani ‘Aulika, Sila Puafisi, Elvis Taione, Kalafi Pongi, Sosefo Sakalia, Tukulua Lokotui, Uili Kolo’ofa’i, Joseph Tu’ineau, Steve Mafi, Hale T Pole, Viliami Fihaki, Nili Latu, Opeti Fonua, Viliami Ma’afu

Backs: Sonatane Takulua, Taniela Moa, Sosefo Ma’ake, Latiume Fosita, Kurt Morath, Martin Naufahu, Sione Piukala, ‘Alipate Fatafehi, Siale Piutau, ‘Otulea Katoa, Fetu’u Vainikolo, Telusa Veainu, Vungakoto Lilo



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