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Tonga name extended squad to face All Blacks

Tonga coach and former Australia Test No8, Toutai Kefu, has included 15 debutants in his squad to contest Rugby World Cup qualifying games with Samoa and a Test with the All Blacks in Auckland.

Twenty-two of the 30-man squad are based in New Zealand. Their opening game is at Mt Smart Stadium against the All Blacks on July 3. They return to Mt Smart a week later to play the first of two games against Samoa, the second being in Hamilton on July 17.

Kefu said: “These men are excited to represent the kingdom and take the first step on our journey to France 2023.”

He said his players were looking forward to playing in front of a sea of red in Auckland, just as the Tongan rugby league did two seasons ago and, most famously for the opening game of the 2011 Rugby World Cup at Eden Park.

The Tonga squad is: (clubs New Zealand unless otherwise stated. Debut players *) Jethro Felemi (Reds, Australia), Duke Nginingini* (Counties Manukau), Jay Fonokalafi (Grammar Tech), Siua Maile (Manawatu), Sam Moli* (Tasman), Luatangi Li* (Northland), Sila Puafisi (Counties Manukau), Ben Tameifuna (Bordeaux), Sione Tuipolotu* (Auckland), Harrison Mataele (Grammar Tech), Don Lolo* (Taieri), Solomone Funaki* (Highlanders), Zane Kapeli (Chiefs), Nasi Manu (Canterbury), Viliami Taulani* (Chiefs), Mateaki Kafatolu* (Wellington), Sonatane Takulua (Toulon, France), Leon Fukofuka (Hunter, Australia), Aisea Halo* (North Harbour), James Faiva (Padua, Italy), Kalione Hala (Counties Manukau), Hosea Saumaki* (Canon, Japan), Fine Inisi* (North Harbour), Sam Vaka* (Agen, France), Nafi Tu’itavake (Massey), Walter Fifita* (North Harbour), Nikolai Foliaki* (Northland), John Tapueluelu* (Otago), Penikolo Latu (Hawke’s Bay), Malietoa Hingano (Bayonne, France).

Story Courtesy/All Blacks

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