7 Feb 2014

Sport: Tonga targeting top eight finish in Wellington 7s

12:09 pm on 7 February 2014

Pacific heavyweights Fiji and Samoa are expected to again be among the title contenders at the Wellington Sevens, which begins on Friday.

But for neighbours Tonga earning an invite to the Hong Kong challenger event next month will feel just as good as any trophy.

The Kingdom qualified for Wellington by finishing third at last year's Pacific Mini Games.

They finished winless in their only other appearance this season on the Gold Coast and team manager Filo 'Akauola says they need to perform.

"We are trying all our best otherwise we might be invited to Hong Kong. We look at the pool that we are in, Australia, Kenya and Samoa, we try to impress the people here in Wellington. If we make it to the quarter finals that would be a big step and a big improvement for our Tongan team. Also, we dedicate all our games for the Ha'apai group that have been devastated from the Hurricane Ian."

If Tonga are invited to Hong Kong they will have a chance to advance to the core-team qualifying tournament in London in May.

Tonga begin their tournament against Australia, while Samoa take on Kenya and Fiji face New Zealand first up.