21 May 2016

Sport: Key names missing from 'Ikale Tahi for June

12:37 pm on 21 May 2016

Tonga have named a 28-man squad for next month's June rugby internationals but head coach Toutai Kefu admits if he was able to select a full strength team almost half of them wouldn't make it.

Racing Metro prop Ben Tameifuna and Narbonne winger Nafi Tu'itavake are two of the notable new faces.

Nili Latu returns as captain but 11 from last year's World Cup squad have been included, with a host of key players, including Sona Taumalolo, Fetu'u Vainikolo and Kurt Morath, all unavailable.

No one that played at the World Cup was dropped and admits it wasn't easy putting a squad together according to Toutai Kefu.

"Some had niggling injuries, some wanted purely to have a rest and some had holiday plans actually. There'd be close to 15-20 players that were unavailable so a lot of players that we have named in the squad were recommended to me from other coaches and obviously being involved with the 'Ikale Tahi set-up before."

"There's quite a number of players that I don't know much about - I've seen some footage on them - but if I could have picked my strongest squad there would have been a lot of players that wouldn't have been there," he said.

Tonga play Fiji and Samoa next month as part of the Pacific Tri Series and Rugby World Cup qualifying and will also play a one-off test against Georgia.

Tongan squad:

Sione Faletau - Canterbury

Ben Tameifuna - Racing Metro

Sila Puafisi - Glasgow

Leo Halavatau - London Irish

Sione Lea - Taranaki

Elvis Taione Exeter

Sione Anga'aelangi - Counties

Steve Mafi - Force

Daniel Faleafa - Alibi

Uili Kolo'ofa'i - Jersey

Jack Ram - Auckland.

Nili Latu (captain) - Newcastle

Sione Kalamafoni - Gloucester

Sione Tau - Agen

Viliami Fihaki - Sale

Mikaele Mafi - Otago

Sonatane Takulua - Newcastle

Wayne Ngaluafe - Auckland

Latiume Fosita - Auckland

Martin Naufahu - Rebels

David Halaifonua - Gloucester

Nafi Tu'itavake - Narbonne

Viliami 'Iongi - San Francisco

'Otulea Katoa - Edinburgh

Viliami Hakolo - Nottingham

Daniel Kilioni - Grenoble

Viliami Tahitu'a - Yamaha

'Apakuki Ma'afu - NSW Country