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Former Wallaby reinstated on wing for Tonga's All Blacks challenge

Ikale Tahi outside back Cooper Vuna once represented the Wallabies. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Well-travelled former Wallaby Cooper Vuna has been restored to Tonga’s wing for their final Rugby World Cup warmup Test against the All Blacks in Hamilton.

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Vuna shifts from inside centre to the right wing in one of six personnel or positional changes to the Tongan starting side who lost 29-19 to Fiji in Auckland last week.

The 32-year-old is used to switches, having jumped codes and teams routinely since his professional debut with the Warriors NRL club 15 years ago.

An explosive runner, Vuna scored 36 tries from 59 NRL games for the Warriors and Newcastle Knights, and also represented Tonga at the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.

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His first rugby union contract was for three seasons with the Melbourne Rebels and he played in two victorious Tests for Australia against Wales in 2012.

Club stints in the English top-flight coincided with a return to Tongan Test eligibility three years ago.

Captain Siale Piutau shifts to the No.12 jersey, playing outside five-eighth Kurth Morath, who came off the bench against Fiji.

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England-based Morath, 34, is Tonga’s all-time leading point-scorer with 340 from 36 Tests.

Coach Toutai Kefu, the former Wallabies No.8, has handed a first cap to starting hooker Siua Maile.

Fifteenth-ranked Tonga have had a mixed World Cup building, suffering losses to Samoa, Japan and Fiji but beating Canada and the Western Force.

They are in a treacherous pool that includes England, France and Argentina.

Tonga: David Halaifonua, Cooper Vuna, Malietoa Hingano, Siale Piutau (capt), Viliame Lolohea, Kurt Morath, Sonatane Takalua, Maama Vaipulu, Fotu Lokotui, Sione Kalamafoni, Leva Fifita, Sam Lousi, Siua Halanukonuka, Siua Maile, Siegfried Fisi’ihoi. Res: Sione Anga’aelangi, Vunipola Fifita, Ma’afu Fia, Dan Faleafa, Zane Kapeli, Leon Fukofuka, James Faiva, Atieli Pakalani.

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– AAP

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