Ben Tameifuna having to fund his own quarantine costs to play for Tonga
The financial problems affecting the Pacific Islands nations have been brought sharply into focus in the wake of Tonga’s 102-0 thrashing by the All Blacks with team officials revealing they struggle to pay for the kit to be washed.
To further dampen spirits, the team’s kit van was stolen from outside their hotel with the only good news coming from the fact that like their Union’s coffers, the vehicle was empty.
Following the loss to the All Blacks in Auckland, Tonga coach Toutai Kefu said his players arriving from the northern hemisphere had to contribute to their own quarantine costs.
It is reported that when ex-Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna leaves managed isolation after returning from France where he plays for Racing 92 to join his Tongan team-mates tomorrow, he will have to pay at least half the bill himself.
“It is just a matter of working out how much we can actually give them.’’ Team manager Lano Fonua told Stuff. “We don’t have much money to throw around at the best of times. So those boys who have got out of quarantine have paid for it out of their own pockets because they live in New Zealand, or are returning for holidays.
“It is our situation. We have not asked for any more players to come over from Europe because we knew we could not cover it. We have been upfront. In the best of times we struggle for our budget to cover our laundry, let alone all these extras in a Covid situation.
“Peter Harding, the chief executive, his position is whatever he can get out of his travel budget he will divide between those five players. The Tonga Rugby Union is looking to subsidise 50 per cent but that is something we are working on.’’
To minimise quarantine and insurance costs, the Tonga Rugby Union said that if players returned to New Zealand for personal reasons they would be considered for selection for the test against the All Blacks and the two World Cup qualifiers against Samoa
Twenty-two of the 30 players in the current squad are New Zealand-based, forcing Kefu to name 13 debutants for his team’s first test since the 2019 World Cup[. Kefu said travel and quarantine issues meant more than 20 had declined the chance to join the tour.
Fonau paid tribtue to the help given by the New Zealand Rugby Union who have also helped Samoa and added: “They [NZ Rugby] have been great. That has been a really useful approach. That is not a standard approach between unions, usually, so hats off to NZ Rugby for that.”
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