Tonga coach Kefu expects physical battle against Manu Samoa
Ikale Tahi coach, Toutai Kefu, is expecting a bruising game against the Manu Samoa at 3pm on Saturday at Apia Park, in Tonga's opening Pacific Nations Cup match.
“With Samoa traditionally, it’s always been tough games, very physical upfront, set piece really, really important," he said.
“We just wanna play our way, we’ve kinda got a bit of a gameplan, not only for the P.N.C., but for us moving forward into the World Cup."
Kefu said it's no secret that one of his side's strengths is their physicality.
“We wanna play direct, that’s what we do best.
“From the numbers and the metrics from the last two or three years, you can see that when we play that way well, we win more than we lose."
The former Wallabies number eight said 90 percent of their buildup for Saturday will be spent focussing on themselves, rather than the opposing Manu Samoa.
“We’ve never won the P.N.C., so we obviously still want to win it.
“But there’s a bigger prize at the end of the day [in the Rugby World Cup], we’ve got our eye on that."
Like the Manu Samoa, the Ikale Tahi spent time in camp in Auckland last week.
“We identified some key areas for us to work on.
“Hopefully we’ll just keep building that towards the end of the P.N.C. and into the World Cup prep phase."
Kefu has chosen a few debutants in his P.N.C. squad of 31, and wants to make sure he gets a look at everyone before selecting his group for the World Cup.
“We’ve got some old players that haven’t been playing for a while, they’ve made their way back into the squad.
“Everyone will see some gametime over the next three weeks."
Tonga Pacific Nations Cup squad 2019:
- Paea Fa’anunu (Castres)
- Siegfried Fisi’ihoi (Stade Francais)
- Toma Taufa (Bayonne, debutant)
- Paul Ngauamo (Agen)
- Elvis Taione (Exeter Chiefs)
- Sefo Sakalia (Asia Pacific Dragons)
- Ma’afu Fia (Ospreys)
- Siua Halanukonuka (Glasgow Warriors)
- Ben Tameifuna (Racing 92)
- Leva Fifita (Grenoble)
- Onehunga Havili (Exeter Chiefs)
- Sam Lousi (Hurricanes, debutant)
- Steve Mafi (Castres)
- Zane Kapeli (Bay of Plenty)
- Fotu Lokotui (Kagifa Samoa)
- Nasi Manu (Benetton Treviso)
- Sione Vailanu (Saracens)
- Ma’ama Vaipulu (Castres)
- Sami Fisilau (Auckland Marist)
- Leon Fukofuka (Kagifa Samoa)
- Tane Takulua (Newcastle Falcons)
- James Faiva (SilverStorm El Salvador, debutant)
- Latiume Fosita (Kagifa Samoa)
- Otumaka Mausia (Auckland, debutant)
- Siale Piutau (Bristol Bears)
- Nafi Tuitavake (Northampton Saints)
- Viliami Lolohea (Papatoetoe)
- Afa Pakalani (Eastwood)
- Cooper Vuna (Bath)
- Tevita Halaifonua (Coventry)
- Fetuli Paea (Tasman)