Report: Tonga debutant sensationally axed on eve of All Blacks test
Tonga have reportedly dropped one of their 13 debutants from their side a day out from their test match against the All Blacks amid an eligibility row.
Koloamatangi was named in the No. 18 jersey for this weekend’s clash in what would have been his first test cap for Tonga, but Stuff reports the 26-year-old has been deemed ineligible by World Rugby after he played one match for Hong Kong in 2019.
After rising through the ranks in New Zealand, where he was part of the country’s world championship-winning U20 side in 2015, Koloamatangi, a former Waikato representative, relocated to Hong Kong in late 2016.
There, he turned out for Valley in the Hong Kong Premiership and the South China Tigers in the now-defunct Global Rapid Rugby.
Three years after his move, Koloamatangi was called into the Hong Kong national side for their 2019 end-of-year tour of Europe.
It was on that tour where Koloamatangi started for Hong Kong in their 36-17 win over Belgium in Brussels, which, under World Rugby laws, makes him ineligible to play for Tonga.
However, Tongan officials believe Koloamatangi might have been wrongly capped by Hong Kong as he may not have observed the residency requirement of three years.
It’s for that reason that ‘Ikale Tahi team manager Lano Fonua is “pretty confident” Koloamatangi will get clearance to play for the Pacific Island nation in the future.
“He couldn’t get a clearance from World Rugby,” Fonua told Stuff. “That’s being worked through at the moment, but we couldn’t get it in time.
“It’s a case of whether he was actually available to play for Hong Kong in the first place. We’ll see what happens. We’re pretty confident he will play for Tonga, and that capping by Hong Kong was not legal.”
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