Tongans fire World Cup warning

Tonga may be one of the World Cup minnows, but the Pacific Island outfit’s players are determined to show they are not at the global showpiece in France just to make up the numbers.

They hope to add to their two previous World Cup victories – against Ivory Coast in 1995 and Italy in 1999 – when they open their 2007 campaign against fellow Pool A minnows the United States in Montpellier on September 12.

Not only do the Tongans believe they have the ability to beat the US Eagles, but they also feel they finally have the squad to make their mark on world rugby.

“This is the best squad we have ever had for a rugby world cup,” coach Quddus Fielea said in an interview on the IRB’s website.

“We have players based all around the world but this is the first time we have been able to get them all together.”

To qualify for the quarter-finals Tonga will likely have to beat either South Africa or England, both previous tournament winners.

“It would be a magical moment for every Tongan if we were to beat them,” added Fielea, “but we are just concerned about the USA match for now.”

Tongan captain Nili Latu is also brimming with confidence after a month of solid preparation.

“We have had four weeks together and have come a long way in that time,” the flanker said.

Latu is looking forward to his first World Cup.

“Many of our players will have watched the World Cup when they were young. This is a special occasion and we are looking forward to getting out there and playing some rugby.”


365 Digital

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