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Tonga name Nili Latu as World Cup captain

Tonga have announced its 30-man World Cup squad today, including nine players from English Premiership clubs.

The team will be captained by experienced 33-year-old Newcastle flanker Nili Latu, while featuring recent debutants Telusa Veainu, Viliami Tahitu’a and Sosefo Ma’ak.

The squad, numbering 17 forwards and 13 backs, have arrived at their World Cup base in Surrey after being announced by TRU President Epi Taione.  It is expected that a final 31st player will be named at a later stage.

Currently ranked tenth in the world, the Tongan side is comprised from 24 clubs across eight countries, with only scrum-half Ma’ak based at home.

They will kick-off their world cup campaign against Georgia at Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester on September 18 before playing New Zealand, Argentina and Namibia in Pool C.

Tonga finished third in the Pacific Nations Cup earlier this month and have two upcoming warm-up games with Rosslyn Park and London Welsh.

Tonga World Cup squad:

Forwards: Tevita Mailau (Perpignan), Alisona Taumalolo (Grenoble), Soane Tonga’uiha (Oyonnax), Halani Aulika (London Irish), Sila Puafisi (Gloucester), Elvis Taione (Exeter Chiefs), Paula Ngauamo (Stade Montois), Aleki Lutui (Amphill), Tukulua Lokotui (Béziers Hérault), Joeseph Tuineau (Lyon), Steve Mafi (Western Force), Opeti Fonua (Leicester Tigers), Hale T-Pole (Otago), Nili Latu (Capt; Newcastle Falcons), Jack Ram (Blues), Viliami Ma’afu (Oyonnax), Sione Kalamafoni (Gloucester).

Backs: Sonatane Takulua (Newcastle Falcons), Samisoni Fisilau (Jersey), Sosefo Ma’ake (Havelu Bulldogs), Kurt Morath (Biarritz Olympique), Latiume Fosita (Doncaster Knights), Sione Piukala (Gloucester), Siale Piutau (Yamaha Júbilo), Viliami Tahitu’a (Northland), Fetu’u Vainikolo (Oyonnax), Telusa Veainu (Melbourne Rebels), Tevita Halaifonua (Gloucester), William Helu (Edinburgh), Vungakoto Lilo (Montauban).

LUKE JARMYN

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