The Tongan Rugby Union announced a 35-man ‘Ikale Tahi to compete in the upcoming Pacific Nations Cup 2023. The Tongan International squad are set to face-off against Australia A, Fiji, Japan and Samoa. The test matches will be crucial in preparation for the upcoming Rugby World Cup in September, to be held across France. Moana Pasifika are proud to acknowledge eight representatives have been named, including a member of our inaugural Under 20’s team, and a 2022 squad member.
After a standout DHL Super Rugby Pacific season where he was commended for his line-out accuracy, Samiuela Moli (Leimatu’a, Te’Kiu) is one of four hookers named for Tonga. The 24-year-old made his debut for his country in 2020 and has three caps to his name, including playing against the All Blacks in 2021.
Tau Koloamatangi and Sosefo ‘Apikotoa will be competing against each other as two of the three tight-head props named. Both big men are currently undefeated in the red jersey and will be relishing the opportunity to play for their country.
Moana Pasifika Captain Solomone Funaki is coming off an outstanding year in DHL Super Rugby Pacific, where he picked up Moana Pasifika’s ‘Moana Man’, Best Defender, Forward of the year, and Players Player of the year. Funaki has a wealth of knowledge from his year as Moana Pasifika’s captain and will look for an inspired performance for his country.
Twenty-one-year-old Manu Paea is one of three halfbacks named for the ‘Ikale Tahi. Having played two tests off the bench for Tonga last year, Paea has gained a wealth of experience in his eight games for Moana Pasifika in 2023. He will be excited to get back on the field after being hampered with a flurry of injuries in the latter stages of the season.
William Havili, Fine Inisi, Kyren Taumoefolau and Solomone Kata are the Moana Pasifika representatives amidst a star studded ‘Ikale Tahi backline. Named as a First Five-Eighth, Havili’s versatile skillset and kicking game stood out in 2023 and he will be tasked with steering the vaka for Tonga.
The electrifying Fine Inisi has proved that it doesn’t matter what number is on the back of his jersey, he has consistently been an X-factor performer starting at centre, wing, or as an impact off the bench. His adaptability makes him the ideal team player.
Marlborough Boy’s Kyren Taumoefolau is the youngest to be selected to the ‘Ikale Tahi, and one of only three debutants. Having already represented Tonga on the HSBC World Sevens Series Circuit, Taumoefolau was a member of the inaugural Moana Pasifika U20’s team that competed at the Bunnings Super Rugby Under 20’s Championship earlier this year.
Currently playing for the Exeter Chiefs in England, Solomone Kata has had a storied career in both NRL and Super Rugby, playing seven games for Moana Pasifika in their inaugural year.
The ‘Ikale Tahi is stacked with experience from across the globe, and features former All Blacks Vaea Fifita, Augustine Pulu, Malakai Fekitoa, George Moala, and Charles Piutau. In addition to big names such as Pita Ahki, Sione Havili-Talitui and former Wallabies Israel Folau and Adam Coleman, the ‘Ikale Tahi boast one of their strongest teams on paper.
Moana Pasifika wishes the ‘Ikale Tahi and the Tonga Rugby Union all the best with their upcoming campaigns.
FULL 35-MAN ‘IKALE TAHI SQUAD
Kyren TaumoefolauSee all news