'One more special hurrah'
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: “One more special hurrah,” is the message from captain Siale Piutau as Tonga look to break their World 2019 duck against USA in Hanazono on Sunday.
“He told us to treasure each other’s company, the brotherhood, the culture,” said centre Malietoa Hingano, one of 12 survivors from the starting XV that ran France close in Pool C on Sunday. “It’s pretty clear, he said, that we will never play together again.”
Coach Toutai Kefu has changed both wings for the USA game, Viliami Lolohea coming in at No.11 and ‘Atieli Pakalani at 14, replacing Cooper Vuna who drops out of the matchday 23.
Siua Halanukonuka starts at prop, having come off the bench at half-time against France.
Piutau will celebrate his 34th birthday by breaking his country’s World Cup appearance record alongside flank Sione Kalamafoni. Both will play their 12th World Cup games.
“Everyone can see the improvement over the past three weeks,” said Kefu. “We’ve improved out of sight and the last couple of games have been lost due to our own fault.”
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 11, 2019
Tonga: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 ‘Atieli Pakalani, 13 Malietoa Hingano, 12 Siale Piutau (captain), 11 Viliami Lolohea, 10 James Faiva, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Maama Vaipulu, 7 Zane Kapeli, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Halaleva Fifita, 4 Sam Lousi, 3 Siua Halanukonuka, 2 Paula Ngauamo, 1 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi.
Replacements: 16 Siua Maile, 17 Vunipola Fifita, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Dan Faleafa, 20 Nasi Manu, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Latiume Fosita, 23 David Halaifonua.
Date: Sunday, October 13
Venue: Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Higashiosaka City
Kick-off: 14.45 (01.45 USA-Eastern time; 05.45 GMT; 18.45 Tonga time)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)