11 Sep 2013

Sport: Tonga sevens coach proud of newcomers

10:47 am on 11 September 2013

While Fiji and Samoa appear likely to square off for rugby sevens gold later today at the Pacific Mini Games the other five teams still have plenty to play for.

The top finishing side outside of the aforementioned heavyweights will qualify for the Wellington leg of the IRB World Series in February.

Tonga mixed three wins with a loss to Fiji on day one, despite a rocky build up to the tournament with regular coach Eddie Waqa and half of the team refusing to travel by boat to Wallis and Futuna.

Not for the first time Manu Vunipola was called in at late notice to find some replacements and take control of the team.

He says even with a bunch of front-line players missing they're confident of securing that Wellington berth and giving the big guns a run for their money.

"This is our fourth time that my team [is] playing together - before we come here we only met for the morning before we got on the boat to come here. That's the main thing for me that I'm very happy for the boys performance today. For me I don't want to say who is right [or] who is wrong back in Tonga. That's why I'm here with the boys, to play, to represent my country."

Tonga take on Samoa and Papua New Guinea later today, before the playoffs.