A major injury blow has been dealt to Tonga as their three superstars Salesi (Charles) Piutau, Malakai Fekitoa, and Isileli (Israel) Folau have been ruled out of their upcoming 2023 Rugby World Cup (RWC) qualifiers match against Hong Kong.
The team has confirmed that the three players suffered injuries and will play no part on the field in the qualifiers in Australia.
Former All Blacks Fekitoa and Piutau and former Wallaby Folau only played in Tonga’s PNC tournament opener against Fiji, which Tonga lost 31 – 0.
Tonga head coach Toutai Kefu has given time to rest and nurse and recover from their injuries.
“Piutau has gone home, Folau is back in Brisbane, and he will be out for 10 weeks for a hamstring injury, while Fekitoa suffered a calf injury,” Kefu said.
Now with the qualifiers just a few days away, the Tongan coaching staff will look for depth in their squad in order to field the best combination when they play against the 2022 Asia Rugby Championship winners Hong Kong.
The winner will qualify as the Asia/Pacific One qualifier and will be grouped in pool D, with reigning world champions South Africa, world number two Ireland, Scotland, and Romania.
“We are under no illusions that this will be an easy game, Hong Kong is coming out of a victory, winning the Asian tournament, so we will have to bring our A game, on the day,” said Kefu.
The loser of this game will go in the Americas Two RWC qualifying match and will have an opportunity to qualify for the 2023 RWC, through the final qualification tournament that will be held later this year.