Rugby World Cup 2011

Maka only RWC opener worry

2011-09-07 11:35
Finau Maka (Gallo)

Auckland - Inspirational Tonga rugby captain Finau Makau is in doubt for Friday's opening Rugby World Cup clash with the All Blacks despite being named in the side on Wednesday.

The France-based Maka, who has played for top flight French club Toulouse, strained an Achilles heel five days ago and has not been able to train since.

A decision on whether he will start against the All Blacks will be made after Thursday's captain's run on the eve of the All Blacks match with Maka more confident than his brother and coach Isitolo that he will take the field.

"We have just one concern, Finau. We will finalise it on Thursday," Isitolo told a press conference when naming the side.

"He's thinking like that but to me I'm playing," Finau Maka interrupted, before adding: "We'll have a captain's run on Thursday and see from there."

Tonga have opted for a 5-2, forward-back split as they prepare to take the All Blacks on up front and coach Maka, a former All Blacks number eight, said they were preparing for a high attrition rate in a bruising forward encounter.

The lighter Waikato Chiefs halfback Taniela Moa has been given the nod to start ahead of the strapping 1.82 metre (six foot) 95 kilogram (15 stones) Samisoni Fisilau who likes to operate as an extra forward.

Maka said it was a difficult decision knowing when to start Fisilau but the decision was made to bring him off the bench when fresh muscle power was needed.

The pack also includes Blues backrow Viliami Ma'afu, props Taufa'ao Filise from the Cardiff Blues and Soane Tonga'uiha of the Northampton Saints and hooker Aleki Lutui who plays for the Worcester Warriors.

Maka said he has also gone for speed in the backline to show Tonga can play an expansive game when required.

"It's not just about the contact area. I have faith in our backline. We will move the ball wide and show what we can do. It's not about smashing each other and the opposition going into the contact zone," he said.


Tonga: 15 Vungakoto Lilo, 14 Viliame Iongi, 13 Sukanaivalu Hufanga, 12 Andre Ma'ilei, 11 Siale Piutau, 10 Kurt Morath, 9 Taniela Moa, 8 Viliami Ma'afu, 7 Finau Maka (captain), 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Joseph Tuineau, 4 Paino Hehea, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha

Substitutes: 16 Ephraim Taukafa, 17 Alisona Taumalolo, 18 Kisi Pulu, 19 Sione Timani, 20 Samiu Vahafolau, 21 Samisoni Fisilau, 22 Alipate Fatafehi

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Richard Kahui, 13 Ma'a Nonu, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Isaia Toeava, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock

Substitutes: 16 Corey Flynn, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Sam Whitelock, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Colin Slade, 22 Cory Jane


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