Kefu: We Need To Qualify For RWC

The World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup is a build-up for Tonga as they prepare for the qualifiers of next year’s Rugby World Cup.
04 Jul 2022 17:47
Kefu: We Need To Qualify For RWC
Vodafone Flying Fijians centre Seta Tamanivalu tussles for the ball against Tonga’s Malakai Fekitoa during their Pacific Nations Cup clash at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva on July 2,2022. Photo: Leon Lord

The World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup is a build-up for Tonga as they prepare for the qualifiers of next year’s Rugby World Cup.

It is not so much about the results, says head coach Toutai Kefu after their 36-0 loss to the Vodafone Flying Fijians on Saturday at the HFC Bank Stadium.

The Rugby World Cup 2023 Asia/Pacific playoffs will be a direct qualification match between Tonga and Asia 1, which will be held at Sunshine Coast Stadium, Queensland in Australia, on July 23.

“That’s probably the game that we have to win, the other three games are just Test matches,” he said.

“The prize at the end of all of these is probably the World Cup next year, so that’s where we want to start playing well.”

Pathway to France

The opposing team will be determined during the Asia Rugby Championship final on July 9 between Hong Kong and South Korea.

The winner of this match will join South Africa, Scotland, Ireland and Europe 2 in Pool B while the loser will head into the final qualification tournament in November 2022.

He indicated these three games were to test his squad and build combinations.

“We had two weeks preparation into this, we did alright. I feel every week we going to get better, like every campaign we come together.

“Obviously in terms of results, it’s very disappointing. But our mindset this whole tournament was just to build combinations and connections.

“We are in a rotation squad, we’ve always said that if our by-product is winning then we’re glad to win or maybe a little more competitive but from the result end, it’s really disappointing.”

Kefu had 11 debutants on his side including international trio; ex-Wallabies Israel Folau, former All Blacks centre Malakai Fekitoa and wing Charles Piutau.

Folau was replaced in the 14th minute after he suffered a hamstring injury.

Still work in progress

Facing Samoa in their second Test, Kefu indicated there is a lot of homework to do.

“There are a lot of things like the connection between the backs and the forwards. We’re still trying on that game plan.

“Tonga was pretty poor, 20 turnovers for the whole game; 12 in the first half.

“I thought they (debutants) went well. They are still trying to find their place in the team. Izzy unfortunately had a hamstring issue; he’s going to be looked after at that moment.

“Just like the Fijians, Samoa is going to be a tough battle among another islanders team.”


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