Tonga head coach Toutai Kefu has named his 32-man squad for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
The squad features a blend of experience and youth, with captain Sonatane Takulua and Malakai Fekitoa both returning after missing the 2019 World Cup. There are also first call-ups for Kyren Taumoefolau, Afusipa Taumoepeau, and Anzelo Tuitavuki.
Taumoefolau is a young wing who has been in impressive form for the Melbourne Rebels, while Taumoepeau is a versatile back who can play at fly-half or fullback. Tuitavuki is a back-row forward who has been in good form for the Western Force.
The squad is as follows:
- Sosefo ‘Apikotoa (Highlanders)
- Sione Anga’aelangi (Clermont Auvergne)
- Samiuela Fa’angavalu (Western Force)
- Sione Kalamafoni (Exeter Chiefs)
- Ben Tameifuna (Chiefs)
- Tevita Mafileo (Montpellier)
- Sonatane Takulua (captain, Lyon)
- Sione Vailanu (Bath)
- Sam Lousi (Montpellier)
- Joe Taufete’e (Bristol Bears)
- Viliami Taulani (Western Force)
- Tanginoa Halaifonua (Lyon)
- Fotu Lokotui (Nevers)
- Sione Tuipulotu (Montpellier)
- James Faiva (Benetton Rugby)
- Kurt Morath (Castres Olympique)
- Malakai Fekitoa
- Siale Piutau (Bristol Bears)
- Solomone Kata (Montpellier)
- Afusipa Taumoepeau
- Nafi Tu’itavake (Nevers)
- Viliami Lolohea (Clermont Auvergne)
- Telusa Veainu (Perth Spirit)
- Anzelo Tuitavuki
- Latiume Fosita (Perth Spirit)
- Samiuela Lousi (Western Force)
- Kirisome Auva’a (Perth Spirit)
- William Havili (Clermont Auvergne)
Tonga are drawn in Pool B alongside South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, and Romania.
They will begin their campaign against Ireland in Nantes on September 16, 2023.
Kefu said: “We are excited to announce our squad for the Rugby World Cup. It is a talented group of players who have worked hard to earn their selection.
“We have a challenging pool but we are confident in our ability to compete and win. We are looking forward to the tournament and giving it our best.”
Tonga are one of the most passionate rugby-playing nations in the world. They have a strong tradition of producing big, powerful athletes who are not afraid to mix it up. They will be looking to make a big impact at the World Cup in 2023.
The squad features a number of experienced players who will be key to Tonga’s chances, including Takulua, Fekitoa, and Piutau. There are also a number of exciting young players in the squad, such as Taumoefolau, Taumoepeau, and Tuitavuki.
Tonga will be hoping to make a deep run at the World Cup and challenge for a place in the quarterfinals. They have a tough pool to navigate, but they have the talent and passion to do so.