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For two players in different coloured jerseys, divided by the gross inequalities of their national teams, Telusa Veainu and Manu Tuilagi have more in common than you might think.
First, they are neighbours in the quiet village of Nether Broughton, Leicestershire, where they share lifts to training for Leicester and juggle babysitting duties for their young daughters.
‘We usually spend the journey moaning about how little sleep we got because of our two girls,’ laughs Veainu, the Tonga full-back, who will be watching from the stands on Sunday due to injury.
Manu Tuilagi is fit and firing, but admits he was lucky to escape the Pacific Islands
Tonga’s Telusa Veainu and opponent Tuilagi have more in common than you might think
Second, they are united in a common cause: ending the unjust treatment of the Pacific Islands. The shiny happy images of Japanese and international fans coming together in the early days of this World Cup have been spectacular, but they are tainted by the plight of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.
The blame lies right across the sport — with clubs, countries, committees and governing bodies who put their personal initiatives ahead of developing the game.
During the summer, Tuilagi returned to Samoa for his family holiday and was saddened by the untapped talent which turned up for a casual game of touch rugby in his village of Fatausi-Fogapoa.
‘We played touch every day and, 100 per cent, there were guys there like me or Telusa,’ says Tuilagi, the England centre. ‘If you brought them to the UK, they would tear up but they have to go to work to feed their families, so they lose interest in professional rugby.
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