Tonga name side for All Blacks Test

GettyImages 1177585329

Four of their substitutes could also make their debuts in the first game.


The Test is Tonga's last game before their important two-game series with Manu Samoa for qualification for the Rugby World Cup in France in 2023.


All three loose forwards, openside Solomone Funaki, who has played for Hawke's Bay, blindside flanker Mateaki Kafatolu, from Wellington, and No8 Sione Tu'ipolotu, from Auckland, are newcomers to Test level.


The midfield pairing of Nikolai Foliaki and North Harbour's Fine Inisi will also be playing their first Tests.


Lock Don Lolo has played for both South Canterbury and North Otago in Heartland rugby and this year played club rugby in Dunedin.


His locking partner Zane Kapeli made his Test debut in 2018 and has played 10 Tests. A member of the Bay of Plenty side, he appeared in several games for the Chiefs in 2021 and made 18 appearances for Waikato between 2013-15.


Captaining the side will be halfback Sonatane Takulua, a former Blues development squad player who is now with the Toulon, but also had a five-year stint in England with Newcastle. He has played 35 Tests.

First five-eighths Kalione Hala has played nine Test and plays for Counties Manukau while fellow five-eighths James Faiva, another nine-Test veteran, will play fullback.


Wing Hosea Saumaki plays for Canon Eagles, while left-wing Penikolo Latu, who has played five Tests, plays for Southland.


Former Highlanders captain Nasi Manu provides some firepower on the bench for the Ikale Tahi.


The Tonga team is:


1.Duke Nginingini*, 2.Sam Moli*, 3.Sila Puafisi, 4.Don Lolo*, 5.Zane Kapeli, 6.Mateaki Kafatolu*, 7.Solomone Funaki*, 8.Sione Tu'ipolotu*, 9.Sonatane Takulua (captain), 10.Kalione Hala, 11.Penikolo Latu, 12.Nikolai Foliaki*, 13.Fine Inisi*, 14.Hosea Saumaki*, 15.James Faiva.


Substitutes: 16. Siua Maile, 17.Jethro Felemi, 18.Tau Koloamatangi*, 19.Harrison Mataele*, 20.Viliami Taulani*, 21.Nasi Manu, 22.Leon Fukofuka, 23.Walter Fifita*


* Indicates debut


Get your tickets for Mt Smart Stadium HERE.


View all