Ikale Tahi

Teammates turned rivals in Tonga vs Cook Islands clash

It was only three weeks ago that 'Ikale Tahi lock Semisi Paea and Cook Islands centre Junior Raia were lining up alongside each other for Ngongotaha in the Bay of Plenty club competition.

Today both players will make their test match debut, but in different colours.

The 22 year old Paea was first called into the Tongan squad in the lead-up to their test against the All Blacks earlier this month and was surprised head coach Toutai Kefu even knew who he was.

Cook Islands dreaming big ahead of Tonga clash

The team was edged 31-24 by Tasman two weeks ago, in their first competitive match in three years, and outclassed 73-0 by the New Zealand Under-20s side on Saturday.

Meanwhile, an understrength 'Ikale Tahi suffered back-to-back defeats against Manu Samoa in their World Cup qualifier.

Cook Islands coach Nathan Robinson is a former Cook Islands international himself and said the squad has come a long way in the last few weeks.

"The cohesion has been really really good from day one," he said.

Samoa outclass Tonga in five-try win

After a physical but low-scoring first half, Samoa took a 6-3 lead into the break, with two Henry Taefu penalties offset by one from Tongan halfback Sonatane Takulua.

Taefu slotted another penalty soon after the restart, then hooker Ray Niuia was on hand out wide to finish some strong running and slick passing with Samoa's first try.

Five minutes later flanker Alamanda Motuga crashed over from close range to extend Samoa's lead to 21-3, only for Tonga to hit back almost immediately with a try to replacement flanker Villami Taulani.

Manu Samoa prepared to face a determined Ikale Tahi

And the Manu Samoa side is very much aware of this determination.

While it was a one-sided affair against 'Ikale Tahi last weekend, Manu Samoa coach Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua isn't underestimating the Tongan side, with the likes of Ben Tameifuna and Sam Vaka being added to the squad this week.

Tonga boss explains challenging build-up to All Blacks Test

‘Ikale Tahi were thrashed 102-0 by New Zealand in an embarrassing loss at Mt Smart Stadium, but it didn’t tell the whole story.

They were without their top players from Europe with Kefu scrambling around the Mitre 10 Cup to put a squad together.

There were 13 uncapped players in the 23-man outfit which faced the All Blacks and Kefu said that quarantine rules caused by Covid-19 forced them to bring in a number of new faces.

Tonga names nine debutants in line-up against All Blacks

Six of the players have been named in the forward pack.

Duke Nginingini will take up the loosehead prop position.

He plays for Karaka in the Counties Manukau club competition.

Joining him is Sam Moli, the younger brother of four-test All Blacks prop Atu.

Dan Lolo has been named in the second row.

Rugbypass reported that the loose forwards are made up entirely of uncapped players, with blindside flanker Mateaki Kafatolu the most experienced of the back row trio after four seasons with Wellington and a brief spell with the Sunwolves last year.

Tonga names 15 new caps to face All Blacks, Samoa

The 30-man squad includes 22 players based in New Zealand, with four from France, two from Australia and one each from Japan and Italy.

The new faces includes recent Super Rugby debutants Solomone Funaki (Highlanders) and Viliami Taulani (Chiefs), former New Zealand sevens player Sam Vaka and Japan based winger Hosea Saumaki, who turned down an opportunity to play for the 'Ikale Tahi Tonga team three years ago.

Veteran halfback Sonatane Takulua will captain the 'Ikale Tahi, following the international retirement of Siale Piutau at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Former All Black Fekitoa to represent Tonga

The 29 year is one of four former New Zealand and Australian internationals who will represent the kingdom in next weekend's Final Olympic Sevens Repechage tournament in Monaco.

The others are former Wallabies forward Lopeti Timani, Australian sevens international, Afusipa Taumoepeau, and Tasman winger Tima Fainga'anuku, who is a former New Zealand sevens representative.

Fekitoa will link up with the Tonga sevens squad already in Monaco after playing in Wasps' final English Premiership match against Leicester Tigers this weekend.

Ikale Tahi side to meet All Blacks to be named next week

The team is most likely to be selected in New Zealand.

 “There will be a few overseas based players available.”

The match will take place at Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland on 3 July, kicking off at 7:05pm.

The test will help Tonga prepare for their World Cup 2023 Qualifying first-leg match against Samoa a week later on 10 July at a venue yet to be announced.

The second-leg World Cup 2023 Qualifying match between the two teams will be held in Hamilton on 17 July.

Former Tongan international Molitika retires

He leaves his English club Ampthill after seven seasons.

Molitika’s rugby career spans 23 years, during which he played for various clubs in the northern hemisphere including the Harlequins and the Cardiff Blues.

He debuted for the ‘Ikale Tahi in 1997 and was a member of the successful 2007 Rugby World Cup team. In 2008, he was selected to play for the Barbarians.