Maka to lead Tonga at World Cup
August 23, 2011
Finau Maka will captain Tonga in the 2011 World Cup © Getty Images
Tonga have named their 30-man squad for the Rugby World Cup in the midst of internal strife within the country's governing body.
Tonga Rugby Union chairman Bob Tuckey resigned from his post this week with reports suggesting he was unhappy with the prospect of coach Isitolo Maka including former captain Nili Latu in his squad despite the flanker not having played in any of the warm-up matches. However, contrary reports suggest Tuckey's decision to quit comes in the wake of pressure from within the Tongan government.
Latu was the notable casualty when the squad was confirmed on Tuesday with the side set to be captained by Maka's brother Finau. Latu's omission has been supported by new chairman Reverend Tevita Latailakepa who insisted his selection would not be justified but Maka still hopes to call on his services.
"It was a hard decision for me to make to select him, but my country comes first, and I need him on the side of the scrum," Maku said. "I did not know that Bob was going to resign over it. My decision was based purely on what I thought was best for my country."
The party includes Bristol's Vungakoto Lilo, who takes the vice captaincy, and he will play alongside the likes of Worcester hooker Aleki Lutui, Perpignan prop Kisi Pulu and Northampton Saints' Soane Tonga'uiha.
Tonga start their World Cup campaign with the mammoth task of facing hosts and tournament favourites New Zealand on September 9 before facing Canada (September 14), Japan (September 21) and France (October 1).
Forwards: Aleki Lutui, Ephraim Taukafa, Ilaisa Ma'asi, Alisona Taumalolo, Kisi Pulu, Soane Tonga'uiha, Halani 'Aulika, Taufa'ao Filise, Paino Hehea, Sione Timani, Tukulua Lokotui, Joseph Tu'ineau, Sione Kalamafoni, Finau Maka (capt), Viliami Ma'afu, Samiu Vahafolau, Sione Vaiomo'unga
Backs: Taniela Moa, Thomas Palu, Samisoni Fisilau, Kurt Morath, Siale Vailea Piutau, Alipate Fatafehi, Andrew Ma'ilei, Sukanaivalu Hufanga, William Helu, Fetu'u Moana Vainikolo, Alaska Taufa, Viliame 'Iongi, Vungakoto Lilo (vice captain)
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