Tonga fans pumped ahead of ABs clash

5:58 am on 9 October 2015

Tonga rugby fans say with a World Cup full of upsets so far, there's no reason why they can't beat the All Blacks in their final pool game tomorrow morning.

Tonga rugby fans

Photo: RNZ / Lauren Baker

New Zealand will go through to the quarter-finals whatever happens, but Tonga's chances are a little more distant.

To qualify, they need to win against the All Blacks, take a bonus point, and Argentina will have to lose to Namibia.

It's a long shot, but Tonga fans in Auckland say it could happen.

Tapaita Tukia, aka Big Mama (centre)

Tapaita Tukia, aka Big Mama (centre) Photo: RNZ / Lauren Baker

Tapaita Tukia, Auckland's biggest Tongan rugby fan, also known as Big Mama, is confident.

"I don't think it's a toughie," she said. "I think they'll have a good match."

She cannot decide which would mean more - beating the All Blacks, or reaching World Cup quarter-finals for the first time.

"It's important to us to be in the quarter-final, or the semis, or even the finals.

"Even beating the All Blacks - that would be a world record for us. We wanna just push the boys, play fair, play hard, go for gold. We're here to support you."

Tapaita Tukia's brother, Rob Nai, wants younger players to get a start tomorrow. A cousin, Hale T-Pole is in the Tongan team, although the 36-year-old went off injured against Argentina.

"All the young players didn't play the last game, but if they were playing in the last game against Argentina, that would have been a big upset for Argentina," said Rob Nai. "Hopefully the young blood are going to be playing against the All Blacks. Win or lose, good game, that's all we need, just a good, happy game."

Even Buddy the dog is showing his support.

Even Buddy the dog is showing his support. Photo: RNZ / Lauren Baker

Emosi Koloto, former Tonga player turned coach, is president of the New Zealand Tongan Rugby Football Association.

He does not think the Tongan team have fulfilled their potential, nor reached the form they had in 2011.

"They've got a lot of experienced players but just seem to lack a bit of fitness and skills. You know, the speed of the game is so much faster than before.

"Everyone's trying to copy the All Blacks, and I think the game on Saturday is going to be a big challenge for the Tongan team."

"Win or lose, good game, that's all we need, just a good, happy game," says Rob Nai.

"Win or lose, good game, that's all we need, just a good, happy game," says Rob Nai. Photo: RNZ / Lauren Baker

But Emosi Koloto said there was always a chance. "There's a couple of upsets over the tournament so you can never say never."

Others, like Tapaita Tukia, are far more optimistic. "I say 23 (points to the) All Blacks and 100 Tonga," she laughs. "A revision; 23 All Blacks and 26 Tonga. Tight one, it's going to be a tight game."

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