Wests names 26-man squad for Tonga
Wests is pleased to name a 26-man squad to take on Tonga A in Nuku’alofa. The touring squad includes 8 uncapped players and 7 colts aged players. The team will be led by First Grade coach Craig Robberds and ex All Black and Former Tongan World Cup coach Isitolo Maka.
Cairns products and colts aged players Declan Meredith, Jimmy Ngutlik and Darnell Mahendrarajah have all impressed at training since arriving to the club just after New Years and will look to showcase their impressive skills in Tonga. The dynamic trio were instrumental in leading FNQ club Barron Trinty Bulls to a third consecutive Premier Grade title last season.
Declan Meredith and Darnell Mahendrarajah with former Bulls teammates
Uncapped brothers Komiti and Liae Tuilagi will look to add some spark and X-Factor to Wests backline. Liae a silky skilled centre will look to impress in his first taste of senior’s rugby after playing for the Victorian’s u18 Schoolboys team in last years Australian Schools Championship while older brother Komiti makes a return to Rugby Union after playing for Mounties in the NSWRL u20 Jersey Flegg Cup.
Tuilagi brothers Komiti (left) and Liae (right) will both look to add some spark to Wests backline
The tour of Tonga will be extra special for the squad members of Tongan heritage - Falamani Mafi, Sam Sitauti, BJ Sione, Feleti Kaihea, and Anau Takiari.
Prop prodigy Falamani Mafi Jnr will look to make a big impact in his home country and press for reselection in the Tongan u20’s team after being ruled ineligible last year due to being too young. Falamani Jnr is the son of former Wests and Tongan International player Falamani Mafi, who represented Tonga 22 times including two World Cups.
“I’m so excited to show the boys my homeland and for them to experience the unique Tongan culture including lots of Kava sessions!” Takiari laughed.
“It’s a huge honour for the club to be invited by the Honourable Prime Minister Samuela Akilisi Pohiva and Tonga Rugby Union to play Tonga A. Training has been really intense and there is a real positive feeling around the squad for not only our trip to Tonga but the season ahead.
“I’m really excited to be able to play in front of my family who live in Tonga and haven’t witnessed my trademark goosestep,”Takiari said.
The game against Tonga A will be played on Saturday 26 January and will mark the first rugby game in the newly constructed Teufaiva Sport Stadium.
The tour of Tonga has been made possible by long time sponsor Canberra Consulting.