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Sunday, May 19, 2024

TGA team announcement (v IRE): head coach Kefu, captain Tameifuna, Havili

NANTES – Comments from Tonga head coach Toutai Kefu, captain Ben Tameifuna and fly-half William Havili ahead of their Pool B match against Ireland at Stade de la Beaujoire on Saturday.

Toutai Kefu, head coach

On if it is good to start against the number one team in the world and a week later than everyone else:

“It doesn’t really matter because it is what it is. We’ve had some wonderful warm-up games so what better way to start off with a bang against the best team in the world. It’s a massive challenge for us, we’re looking forward to it.”

On what he is expecting from his team:

“We’re expecting to execute really well, execute our game plan. We think there are some spots there we can identify and take advantage of.”

On what difference the four former All Blacks bring to the Tonga team:

“They’ve had a massive input already, both on and off the field. The biggest difference is off-the-field stuff – mindset, professionalism, a really good attitude, so that’s been refreshing and the younger players have observed that. They’ve raised the level of standard and expectation of all the players.”

On Ireland:

“I’ve watched Ireland over the last 12-18 months and they’re absolutely deserving of the number one ranking. Very professional team, very cohesive team. No matter who they put out on the field, they’re going to be very hard to beat.”

Ben Tameifuna, captain

On the former All Blacks now playing for Tonga:

“They bring the professionalism, what it takes to be at a special level. We haven’t had these kinds of standards before.”

On how Tonga will play the game with the front row weighing a combined 387kg:

“Scrum time will be huge for us, we’re going to have a crack. The game starts up front.”

On what the Tonga front row have for breakfast:

“Just porridge and eggs.”

William Havili, fly-half

On the pressure of facing Ireland:

“The pressure’s not really on us, it’s more on them. People expect us to lose but we’ve just been chipping away quietly.”

On his brother, David, being at Rugby World Cup 2023 with New Zealand and having his parents in France to watch:

“It’s pretty cool, it’s good for my mum and dad. We come from a small town in New Zealand and now we’re on the world stage, so it’s pretty awesome for both of us.”


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