Toutai Kefu

Tonga wary of England in their RWC opener

The team was welcomed in a traditional Japanese manner in Kochi on Monday night.

Tonga will be facing England in their first match of the World Cup.

The team is under the guidance of Toutai Kefu, who was born in Tonga but made 60 caps for Australia during his playing career. He took charge of the Tongan national team shortly following the 2015 World Cup. Their most recent result was a crushing 92-7 defeat to New Zealand.

'Ikale Tahi bolter 'a player of the future'

Christchurch-based hooker Siua Maile has been selected at the expense of veteran Elvis Taione, despite no previous involvement with the national team.

The former flanker was named in the Canterbury wider training group earlier this year and Kefu admitted his selection was more about the future than the upcoming tournament in Japan.

Tonga coach focussed on beating Fiji as part of RWC prep

Tonga play Fiji as part of the Pasifika Challenge with the New Zealand Heartland XV meeting Samoa in the early game.

The Kingdom have only won 27 of their previous 91 match-ups against the Flying Fijians but prevailed when the teams last met in Lautoka 14 months ago.

Toutai Kefu said he is fine-tuning his squad heading into the World Cup but are not looking too far ahead.

"We have a squad of 33 at the moment so we need to drop two players out of the squad, one forward and one back but in terms of this game we want to win.

Tonga in good shape for World Cup

The 'Ikale Tahi could only manage one win over Canada in the last of their three games at the recent Pacific Nations Cup but have three more warm up matches before the world showcase.

Kefu said after a month of training and touring together his players were in good shape.

"We've made some big shifts in terms of weight loss and body fat loss. We also made some huge shifts in terms of intensive running," Kefu said.

"It was important that we get a win considering the last four weeks of training have been pretty tough on the boys."

Cancer survivor to lead Tonga against Samoa

'Ikale Tahi coach Toutai Kefu has named a squad which is notable for a handful of newcomers, including former Hurricanes lock Sam Lousi, and the return of 30 year old Manu.

Manu played three tests for Tonga before missing the entire season for Italian club Bennetton Treviso to undergo chemotherapy and testicular cancer surgery.

The match on Saturday is the 'Ikale Tahi's first in their World Cup build up which will culminate with a test against New Zealand in September.

Tonga name Toutai Kefu as new ‘Ikale Tahi coach

This has been confirmed to Kaniva News by Tonga Rugby Union interim chairman, Fe’ao Vunipola.

Kefu will need to select a new squad from local and international players ahead of his first challenge, the Pacific Cup in Fiji and Samoa in June.

Former ‘Ikale Tahi player Siua Taumalolo was elected as assistant coach.

Toutai Kefu ‘highly likely’ ‘Ikale Tahi new coach

We undertand the selection of Kefu was confirmed in a Tonga Rugby Union meeting last  evening.

It is understood TRU and Kefu are in the final stage of their negotiation before signing the contract.

In 2011 Kefu was Tonga’s assistant coach in preparation for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Kefu is Tongan and he has won 60 caps playing at number eight for the Australian rugby union side.