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Fijians wary of Tonga’s firepower

The Pacific Nations Cup kicks off this weekend and many rugby fans are excited to see how the Ikale Tahi play.

The Tongans are coming with some real firepower both in the backline and in the forwards.

The World Rugby eligibility laws have allowed former All Blacks and Wallabies to return home, and that is what they have done.

First up for the Tongans are the Flying Fijians. The Fijians have just one inclusion from the eligibility laws, which is former All Black Seta Tamanivalu.

Fiji coach Vern Cotter said while the hype is about Tonga, they have not moved away from their focus which is to play their own game.

He said they know the Tongans will have a point to prove but their objective is to play Fijian rugby.

Flying Fijians finish off training at Albert Park in Suva. Picture: Shalveen Chand

“We know that they are very good players, and have some awesome traits. We also know that Tonga is always very physical, at first we are expecting a very physical battle so we are going to be ready for that,” Cotter said.

“Going forward is very important for us. And with those traits like Israel Folau we know is very good in the air, Fekitoa is very good in the midfield.

“We know them but we are more focused on our game than their game.”

Fijian Drua midfielder Apisalome Vota will most likely get his first cap against the Tongans. He will face against former All Blacks duo Charles Piatau and Michael Fekitoa.

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With confidence still oozing from the Super Rugby experience, Vota said he had been going against some of the big names when he was taking the field in Super Rugby.

He said this time it will be no different. Veteran lock Api Ratuniyarawa believes that it will be about taking their game to the Tongans.

“Physicality is something that we are expecting but we are also ready to give it back,” he said.

Flying Fijians backline players Josua Tuisova, Waisea Nayacalevu and Jiuta Wainiqolo. Picture: Shalveen Chand

“We have a good mix of youth and senior boys and it is good to see them mixing and hopefully when we take the field on Saturday, we will do what we have come to do.”

Meanwhile the Tongans arrived in Suva this week after spending much of their time in Lautoka after they arrived in Fiji.

Israel Folau made his first appearance on social media with a small message.

“It’s awesome to be on a comeback with this Ikale Tahi Tonga team,” Folau told Tonga Rugby Union’s social media page.

“It’s about taking those opportunities and being together with the boys.”

On Saturday the Flying Fijians will face Tonga at 3.30pm while Australia A and Samoa start the PNC with their game at 1pm at the ANZ Stadium.

 

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