Rugby World Cup
Tonga opt for wholesale changes
September 12, 2011
Taniela Moa starts at fly-half for Tonga against the Canucks © Getty Images
Tonga have rung the changes ahead of their Pool A clash with Canada on Wednesday opting to change 11 of the starting line-up from the team which took to the field against the All Blacks last Friday.
And hooker Alexi Lutui admits it is the correct decision to shuffle the Islander's pack. "When you have a game first, all the other teams analyse you," he said when asked about Canada, who will make their tournament debut against Tonga on Wednesday. "So it's good to mix things up and surprise them."
But it would have been difficult to predict the 11 changes that has reshaped the team, the most made by a Tonga team in World Cup history. Of the starting line-up against New Zealand last Friday, just four players remain to play Canada. However, those four have moved position, four others are headed for the reserves' bench, while the other seven of the initial team have been dropped.
According to coach Isitolo Maka, the player carousel was always part of a masterplan. He said: "We're looking at making sure that everyone is fit and ready because we still have two more games left and the turn around was too short from last Friday to Wednesday."
"All those guys who were on the bench last week are all starting on Wednesday, some of the guys who were started last Friday are on the bench, so we're trying to rotate last week and this week," Maka said. "I have faith in every single one of them."
Captain Finau Maka, who will move from position six to seven in the back-row, said it might be a challenge to continue from where they left off in the second half against the All Blacks. He said: "Guys who didn't make the 22 against the All Blacks are starting this week, so it is a challenge to get them up to the same page as where we left off last Friday night."
Maka said he is over the Achilles problem that plagued him during the match against New Zealand, ready for what his coach and brother expects to be a hotly contested match with Canada. "We have a lot of respect for them, they beat the USA and you can see the USA did well against Ireland," said the coach. "There are no easy games so we expect a very, very hard game."
Tonga: Kurt Morath, Fetu'u Vainikolo, Siale Piutau, lipate Fatafehi, William Helu, Taniela Moa, Thomas Palu; Alisona Taumalolo, Ephraim Taukafa, Kisi Pulu, Sione Timani, Tukulua Lokotui, Finau Maka (c), Sione Vaiomounga, Samiu Vahafolau
Replacements: 16 Aloisio Ma'asi, 17 Soane Tonga'uiha, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Viliami Ma'afu, 20 Sione Kalamafoni, 21 Viliame Iongi, 22 Alaska Taufa
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