Ikale Tahi’s Head Coach. Toutai Kefu did not hide his disappointment with the result of yesterday’s Pacific Nations Cup game.
Moreover, he was unhappy that he did not win a single game for Tonga out of the three test matches of this month, and ending at the bottom of the Pacific Nation Cup.
During a post-match press conference yesterday, Kefu said his team could’ve done better.
“We did deserve to win, that’s for sure,” he said. “But we made too many mistakes during the game, and I think the points in the first half definitely reflected the whole game.
“We could’ve kicked better,” he added. “Samoa’s set piece at the start was really good compare to us. And that doesn’t suit us, I mean we wanted the kind of high tempo game and hustle but Samoa did well to contain us.
“At times we defended well and we put some defense phase together well but again I think discipline was not so good in the first twenty minutes of the game. And that was one area we’ve been focusing on before the game; it was mainly on discipline and execution. I thought we were going pretty well in the last two games in that area until today.”
Toutai thought that they were on the wrong side of the referee yesterday.
“I thought we had a few calls that were made today were not really fair,” he said. “I really thought that the penalty try was not supposed to be given. It was a yellow card, but for a penalty try, you have to be absolutely sure that it’s going to be a try. I thought we were on the wrong side of the referee, and it was the same case like last week, and we addressed it after the game. What we can do is to try and play within the rules and obviously get feedback from the referee.”
Looking ahead, Toutai said their main mission now is to win some test matches with bonus points in order for them to qualify in the Rugby World Cup in 2018.
“We obviously need to win some games,” he said. “I mean we’ve only got one point at the moment and it’s going to make it harder for us, and so next year, we need to win both games.”
Nevertheless, Toutai believes that the challenge for them when it comes to test matches is that there isn’t enough time for the whole team to train and come together.
“I think the biggest challenge for us compared to the top tier nations is that we have our players all over the world,” he said.
“You know it’s a struggle for them to come together for these test matches, and when they do get together, it’s only for two weeks or three. Not like the players in New Zealand and Australia who have their own players in their country having their own local competitions such as Super Rugby. So that’s the challenge for us. For them, they’ve got their players there. But for us, we’ve got our players all over the world.
“So we need more time to get together and prepare for these test matches. Like for us, we only had four training sessions before Fiji which was not enough. And I was actually quite confident about this game than I was before the first two games.”
However, Toutai uttered that there they will take away the positive outcomes from these three games. “The positive thing we got out of these three games is that we have about seven or eight new capped players on for this tour and this is just the beginning for them and they had a lot to learn from all these games.
“And this selection and decision was made to prepare them for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and they need some more time to develop their talent and potential.”
The veteran Tongan Skipper, who played his 50th game as captain today, Nili Latu took the loss really bad yesterday, as he wanted to win this game for his country.
“We came here to win and we wanted to win this game,” he said. “I was not happy with the way we played in the first half, because we believe that we can do better than that. But today was probably a learning lesson for all our young players, and in time they will become better. But I thought our fight back in the second half showed the quality of the players we got, we’ve got good players and they need to learn very quickly in international environment. I think in the second half, we slowly began to control the game, and we played very well in the second half. But like I said, we learnt a lot from this game and we will address the issues from this game as a team in order for us to move forward.”
Toutai suffered from a knee injury from yesterday’s game and he hoping to recover from it soon.