Former Wallaby Adam Coleman named in Tonga’s match-day 23 against Scotland

By Iliesa Tora of  rnz.co.nz and is republished with permission

Former Wallaby Adam Coleman will debut off the bench for the ‘Ikale Tahi when they battle Scotland in Nice on Monday morning (New Zealand time).

Coleman became eligible for Tonga with World Rugby approving its eligibility rule allowing players to play for their home nations after three years of stand-down from their last international game with their adopted home teams.

Coleman and fly-half Patrick Pellegrini are the only changes to the bench as head coach Toutai Kefu has gone with retaining the team that was thrashed by Ireland in Nantes last weekend.

“They are our best players and I think after last week’s performance, it probably wasn’t our best version of us. They deserved another chance,” he told the media in Nice on Friday evening.

“The only difference is Adam Coleman comes onto the bench and he might be able to give us a bit of an impact off the bench.

“Depending on how it goes he will be pushing for a starting place in the next couple of weeks. It’s been a while since he played and he’s still getting over a calf injury.

“That’s what he’s had for the last month. Before that it was a shoulder and an Achilles at the same time. He’s been through the wars a bit so we are just taking it daily with him.”

Kefu said they must win against Scotland to have any hopes of getting a quarterfinal spot, a tough ask for the side, following their big loss to the Irish last weekend.

“It is. We are desperate to win. Last week wasn’t us so we want to fix that.”

He said they had focused on Ireland last week and worked on improving areas they identified as weak links from last week.

“The dream is to win three games in a row. That would be a dream. We can’t look too far ahead of ourselves. We are fully focused on performance. Our preparation has been okay this week,” he said.

“The boys are probably a little bit hungover from last week’s performance. They were devastated. We didn’t fire any shots at all. To Ireland’s credit, they kept us under sustained pressure.

“We definitely want to put the best version of ourselves this week.”

Tonga last played Scotland in 2021 and suffered a 60-14 defeat at Murrayfield.

Kefu said this was a totally different team with a lot of experience.

“I wasn’t on that tour, I think that was the Covid tour. This is a totally different squad. I think there’s only one of two players left over from that squad,” he said.

“They did beat us quite convincingly so I’d like to think we will be a lot more competitive, a lot more organised.

“Last week was a massive disappointment. We will put our best foot forward this weekend and show what we’ve been building over the past couple of months.”

Prop Ben Tameifuna will lead the team again.

He said they have prepared to give it their all against Scotland.

“We looked at the whole footage. We put ourselves in tough positions but we got the tools and we fixed that straight away in our first team training back.

“We are still looking to take it week by week and it starts this weekend with Scotland.”

On what he thinks of Scotland: “I played with [fly-half] Finn Russell at Racing. I know his tricks and his little inside balls and dummies and stuff. It will be good to see Finn again on the field. We’re excited and looking forward to this weekend. We’ve just been focusing on ourselves and putting our best foot forward after last week.”

Augustine Pulu, one of the former All Blacks in the side, said they know the importance of winning against Scotland.

“It’s knock-out footie this week. We understand what’s in front of us and put our best foot forward this week,” he said.

“We understand they are quality players but we can only focus on ourselves. Last week we didn’t fire our shots so this week we are going to redeem ourselves by going out there and doing our best.”

Tonga’s match-day 23 against Scotland:

1 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, 2. 2 Paula Ngauamo, 3. Ben Tameifuna (c), 4 Halaleva Fifita, 5 Sam Lousi, 6 Tanginoa Halaifonua, 7 Sione Talitui, 8 Vaea Fifita, 9 Augustine Pulu, 10 William Havili, 11 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 12 Pita Ahki,13 Malakai Fekitoa, 14 Solomone Kata, 15 Salesi Piutau; Replacements: 16 Sam Moli, 17 Tau Koloamatangi, 18 Sosefo Apikotoa, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Semisi Paea, 21 Sione Vailanu, 22 Sonatane Takulua, 23 Patrick Pellegrini

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