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Tonga takes on Namibia, Fiji eyes up for Japan

Monday 28 September 2015 | Published in Regional


EXETER – Tonga coach Mana Otai has named his team for the Pool C match against Namibia at Sandy Park, Exeter, today which comes before contests ahead with Argentina and then New Zealand.

After the defeat by Georgia, Tonga have turned to experience, selecting a XV that is both their most capped and oldest in a World Cup match, with 327 test caps between them and an average age of 30 years and 200 days.

Nili Latu will miss the Namibia match due to a hamstring strain, so deputies Viliami Ma’afu and Siale Piutau will co-captain the team in his absence.

Tonga have named nine changes to the starting line-up that lost to Georgia in their tournament opener.

The nine changes are the second most ever made by Tonga between successive World Cup matches. They made 11 changes between their first and second match at RWC 2011.

The 327 test caps worth of experience in Tonga’s starting line-ups are their most ever in a World Cup match.

Aleki Lutui, 37, is the fourth oldest player at RWC 2015, one of two players in this tournament who have made their test debut before 2000, and will make his first appearance at RWC 2015. This will be his third World Cup participation.

Soane Tonga’uiha will also play in his third World Cup, joining six others for the team record. The six include teammate Vungakoto Lilo who equalled the record at RWC 2015.

Fiji prop Isei Colati will miss his team’s remaining two pool matches at RWC 2015 after injuring his knee in training.

Reserve Taniela Koroi will join the Fiji camp in Swansea from his Italian club Mogliano.

Fiji are next up against a bouyant Wales on Thursday at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Wales shocked the tournament on Saturday with a 28-25 win over hosts England.

Samoa play Japan on Saturday.