Tonga head coach Toutai Kefu has included former Wallabies forward Adam Coleman and former All Blacks sevens star Pita Ahki in his squad for the July Tests ahead of the Rugby World Cup.
The pair are joined by a host of players who have used the 2022 change in eligibility laws to represent a second Test nation provided they have ’a close and credible link to that union via birth-right.’
Three first-time call-ups
Former All Blacks Vaea Fifita, Augustine Pulu, Charles Piutau, Malakai Fekitoa and George Moala feature in the squad, as do former Wallabies Lopeti Timani and Israel Folau.
Coleman and Ahki are two of just three first-time call-ups, with Tonga Sevens star Kyren Taumoefolau completing the trio.
Coleman’s late father, Pau’u Afeaki, skippered Tonga back in the 80s, and Adam now qualifies for Tonga, having played the last of his 38 Tests for the Wallabies in 2019.
“He’s very keen to represent the Tongan side of his heritage and experience a World Cup again. It’s a connection he feels strongly about,” Kefu said of Coleman previously.
Meanwhile, Toulouse star Ahki qualifies for Tonga again, having last played for the New Zealand sevens in 2016. The 30-year-old centre has been a key member of Toulouse’s backline since joining the side from Connacht in 2018.
He has won two Top 14 and a Champions Cup title with the side, starting all three finals.
Ahki represented Tonga and New Zealand at U20 level before playing for the Blues and Hurricanes in Super Rugby.
Tonga begin their preparations for the Rugby World Cup in France with Tests against Fiji and Japan on July 22 and 30, respectively.
They have been drawn in group B, where they will face current world number one-ranked side Ireland, defending champions South Africa, as well as Scotland and Romania.
Tonga Squad for July Tests
Forwards: Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Feao Fotuaika, David Lolohea, Paula Ngauamo, Siua Maile, Samiuela Moli, Sosefo Sakalia, Ben Tameifuna, Tau Koloamatangi, Sosefo Apikotoa, Adam Coleman, Samiuela Lousi, Halaleva Fifita, Sitiveni Mafi, Vaea Fifita, Tanginoa Halaifonua, Solomone Funaki, Sione Vailanu, Lopeti Timani, Sione Havili Talitui
Backs: Sonatane Takulua, Augustine Pulu, Manu Paea, William Havili, Otumaka Mausia, Patrick Pellegrini, Pita Ahki, Malakai Fekitoa, Afusipa Taumoepeau, George Moala, Fine Inisi, Israel Folau, Solomone Kata, Charles Piutau, Kyren Taumoefolau