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Aaron Smith says Nasi Manu’s leadership will add another dimension to Tonga’s team.
Brothers of All Blacks, a former Warriors league player and one uncapped Christchurch roofer on top of the world are just some of the Kiwi links in Tonga’s team for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup warm-up test against the All Blacks in Hamilton.
None are more shocked to be playing at FMG Stadium Waikato than Tonga’s starting hooker Siua Maile. Coach Toutai Kefu said he was “nailing roofs to houses” three weeks ago before his first call-up for the Ikale Tahi, one the 22-year-old is still coming to terms with.
“We still don’t know much about him,” admitted Kefu this week. “He was a third-choice hooker we’re taking to the World Cup and we didn’t envisage him taking any part.
“We brought him along for the experience because we’ve identified he’s got massive potential and might be a player of the future. This is a great opportunity for him. I think he’s still shellshocked.”
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Male grew up in Tonga but moved to New Zealand in 2013 to take up a rugby scholarship at Timaru Boys’ High School. While playing club rugby for Shirley, he is yet to play a first-class match and was only converted from a loose forward a few seasons ago after a request from the Canterbury Rugby Union.
Injuries to Paula Ngauamo and Sosefo Sakalia have led to Male now lining up against All Blacks and Crusaders hooker Codie Taylor. Kefu said he was recommended via Dan Cron, the team’s scrum coach, after advice from Crusaders assistant Jason Ryan.
“He’s a good, young kid,” Kefu said. “He’s keen, he trained the other day an
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