Rugby World Cup 2023 Pool B squads: Tonga include four former capped All Blacks

Sonatane Takulua (RWC 2019) (Photo: World Rugby)

Tonga’s squad for Rugby World Cup 2023 includes some big names and also some notable exclusions with the inclusion of four former capped All Blacks and a Wallaby.

Captain Sonatane Takulua and hooker Paula Ngauamo will appear in their third Rugby World Cups having appeared in the previous two editions in 2015 and 2019. One spot in the 33-man roster is yet to be filled. 

Romania’s squad for Rugby World Cup 2023 boasts two caps centurions in scrum-half Florin Surugiu and back-row enforcer Mihai Macovei.

However, the Oaks will be led in France by 26-year-old back-row, Cristi Chirica. 

Scotland also announced their squad on the same day as Romania with Finn Russell one of four Scotland players selected for a third Rugby World Cup.

Forwards Richie Gray, Grant Gilchrist and WP Nel join Russell in heading to their third tournament. Captain Jamie Ritchie is one of 15 players overall who have previous Rugby World Cup experience.

Meanwhile, South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber named the 33-man squad tasked with successfully defending the Webb Ellis Cup earlier this month.

The squad comprises 19 forwards and 14 backs with Siya Kolisi named as captain once again with his return from a long-term knee injury imminent.

TONGA

Tonga will be without the experience of Isileli Folau and Telusa Veainu due to injury but former All Blacks George Moala, Malakai Fekitoa, Vaea Fifita and Charles Piutau are included in their Rugby World Cup 2023 squad, as is former Wallabies lock Adam Coleman, who has yet to make his ‘Ikale Tahi debut.

Captain and scrum-half Sonatane Takulua, who recently became the first Tonga player to reach a half-century of caps, is one of two players along with hooker Paula Ngauamo set to appear in their third Rugby World Cups for the Ikale ‘Tahi.

Five other players have tournament experience in the former All Blacks squad player Ben Tameifuna and Siua Maile, Sam Lousi, Sitiveni Mafi and  Siegfried Fisi’ihoi.

“It’s a squad I’m very proud to coach and I know all the players are looking forward to representing their families and all Tongans around the globe with pride,” said head coach, Toutai Kefu.

“Unfortunately a couple of our brothers, Isileli Folau and Telusa Veainu, won’t be joining us to due to existing injuries. George Moala, with the reduction of his suspension to 5 weeks, will be able to join the squad mid-campaign.”

Forwards: Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Feao Fotuaika, Tau Koloamatangi, Paula Ngauamo, Siua Maile, Samiuela Moli, Ben Tameifuna, Paula Latu, Sosefo ‘Apikotoa, Adam Coleman, Samiuela Lousi, Sitiveni Mafi, Vaea Fifita, Tanginoa Halaifonua, Semisi Paea, Solomone Funaki, Sione Vailanu, Sione Havili Talitui Backs: Sonatane Takulua, Augustine Pulu, Manu Paea, William Havili, Otumaka Mausia, Pia Ahki, Malakai Fekitoa, George Moala,  Afusipa Taumoefolau, Fine Inisi, Solomone Kata, Salesi Piutau, Kyren Taumoefolau, Anzelo Tuitavuki.

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