Tonga eyes prime opportunity for rugby history against Wales

first_imgThe ‘Ikale Tahi will look to make history tonight in Auckland, after eight previous attempts at defeating the Welsh.Their last encounter was four years ago when the Wales won 17-7 in Cardiff.Veteran flanker Nili Latu, skipper Siale Piutau and first five Latiume Fosita are survivors from that match and will start at Eden Park, while Sila Puafisi could add to his 26 caps off the bench.Meanwhile Wales are missing 12 players to the British and Irish Lions.Piutau admits that raises expectations.”We’ve definitely spoken about it as players,” he said.”We’re not trying to add anymore outside factors, any other pressures on ourselves so for us, with the short amount of time that we’ve had to prepare, we’ve just tried to focus on ourselves and our own individual roles and I think that’s how we’re going to approach it.”The captain acknowledged the match could be Tonga’s best opportunity for an historic victory.”Everyone’s saying this is probably our best opportunity to try and get them with the amount of players they’ve got out with British Lions,” Piutau said.”I suppose, for us as well we’ve got a young squad – we’ve got about five uncapped players – so I think it will be pretty even but, if you look back, we’ve never beaten the Welsh. We’ve come close in the past but if anything this will probably be our best opportunity.”The match will be Tonga’s first since their unbeaten Northern Tour in November, where they defeated Spain, USA and Italy, the latter just their fifth victory over a top tier nation.Piutau said that experience would hold them in good stead.”I think confidence-wise it has definitely given us a boost,” he said.”We’ve got a few boys who were involved in that last year and I think just that experience – some of the young boys that experienced that last year – I think they’ve brought some of that into this year, to this campaign, and just sharing that with the new boys that have come along I think they’re excited to get out there and hopefully create a bit of history for ourselves.”The team is boosted by former All Blacks training squad member Ben Tameifuna who is set to finally make his belated debut after a series of false starts.The 25 year old was named in the Tongan squad three years ago before pulling out.He was also selected to play in the Pacific Nations Cup last June but never joined up with the squad.Tameifuna also missed out on the November tour but coach Toutai Kefu is looking forward to finally seeing him on the field.”Yeah it’s about time we got Ben – oh touch wood,” Kefu said”He was supposed to play in November but he got a stomach ulcer – what are the odds of that – so hopefully we can cap him and he’s really passionate about playing for Tonga, which is fantastic.”(Tameifuna) brings a kind of an invisible energy to the team and a lot of the boys respect him,” he said.last_img read more