Tonga name settled team for France clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Tonga coach Toutai Kefu has again opted for a largely settled starting XV for the Sea Eagles’ Pool C match against France on Sunday.
Tighthead prop Ma’afu Fia will bring a little more mobility. He replaces Ben Tameifuna – the weightiest player in the tournament at 151kg – who started Tonga’s previous two matches.
Cooper Vuna is rewarded for his performance against Argentina on September 28. Vuna came off the bench and made a brilliant backhanded pass to Telusa Veainu for Tonga’s dazzling second try. He comes in at right-wing to replace Viliami Lolohea.
Nasi Manu, who overcame testicular cancer to make the Sea Eagles squad, has returned to the bench after he withdrew late before the match against Argentina due to a sore hip.
Tonga may be able to profit from some insider knowledge. Six of their matchday squad played their club rugby in France last season: Malietoa Hingano (Aviron Bayonnais), Sitiveni Mafi, Maama Vaipulu (both Castres), Leva Fifita (Grenoble), Paula Ngauamo (Agen) and Siegfried Fisiihoi (Stade Francais).
Les Bleus, in turn, will want to keep an eye on Tonga scrumhalf Sonatane Takulua, who has registered points in each of the 22 Test appearances he has made since World Cup 2015.
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 4, 2019
Tonga: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Cooper Vuna, 13 Malietoa Hingano, 12 Siale Piutau (captain), 11 David Halaifonua, 10 James Faiva, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Maama Vaipulu, 7 Zane Kapeli, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Halaleva Fifita, 4 Sam Lousi, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Paula Ngauamo, 1 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi.
Replacements: 16 Sosefo Sakalia, 17 Vunipola Fifita, 18 Siua Halanukonuka, 19 Sitiveni Mafi, 20 Nasi Manu, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Latiume Fosita, 23 Atieli Pakalani.
Date: Sunday, October 6:
Venue: Kumamoto Stadium, Kumamoto City
Kick-off: 16.45 (07.45 GMT; 09.45 France time; 20.45 Tonga time)
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Matthew Carley (England)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)