SPORTS

Tonga Without Four Key Players

The Sione Lolohea skippered Tonga A side will participate in the 2018 World Rugby Pacific Challenge Cup without four of its key players. The side arrived into the country yester­day
07 Mar 2018 11:00
Tonga Without Four Key Players
Tonga A rugby team at the Nadi International Airport on March 6, 2018. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

The Sione Lolohea skippered Tonga A side will participate in the 2018 World Rugby Pacific Challenge Cup without four of its key players.

The side arrived into the country yester­day without Samui Muna, Timote Tuipu­lotu, and Vini Pahulu who suffered injuries during Tropical Cyclone Gita last month.

Robust number 8 Topui Sekona, stayed back in Tonga to attend to his seriously ill mother.

Head coach Isi Fatani said; “We have four players that are not here three had been in­jured and one whose mum is very ill. Even we struggle with the Under 23 format but we always look forward to this competition.

“We had a short time of preparation due to cyclone Gita which took out one week of training away from our programme.”

“Our squad was approved by World Rugby last Saturday and majority of our players have been moved on. We have some 17 and 18 years old lads and this is the right time to make them learn for the future.”

Fatani is wary of the experience Fijian side.

“Fiji has the quality of the players and they are very fast. They have more time with the academy set up in Fiji. Majority of the players have been in the system.”

Some notable players in the side include Saia Masima, Maka Lutua, Duane Aholelei, Jeff Felemi and John Ika.

The Tonga A side faces Junior Japan in their opening match at the ANZ Stadium in Suva this Friday.

Meanwhile, Fiji Warriors are the reigning champions and have won the competition on seven occasions, Samoan teams have won twice and Tongan teams once.

Interestingly Junior Japan, who joined af­ter a revamp of the Challenge in 2011, have never won the title, but had their best-ever campaign in 2017, finishing second to signal the emergence of promising talent ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019.

Edited by Anasilini Ratuva

Feedback: waisean@fijisun.com.fj

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