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The 'fantastic' compliment England boss Jones has paid to Tonga

By Liam Heagney
(Photo Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz)

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England boss Eddie Jones has paid tribute to the enormous role that Tonga play in professional rugby around the world. The Tongans have little or none of the riches enjoyed by the RFU in developing the sport, but the number of quality players they produce is vast and it was something touched on in the build-up to Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series game in London.

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Tonga head into the match having suffered huge defeats in their most recent outings against tier one nations. The All Blacks scored 102 points without reply last July in Auckland and this agony was compounded by last weekend’s 14-60 loss to Scotland in Edinburgh.

Player unavailable was a huge factor in both those losses but they have now been able to bring in reinforcements and will take the field at Twickenham with an XV showing nine changes from the team beaten at Murrayfield.

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What happened when RugbyPass went behind the scenes with Tonga
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What happened when RugbyPass went behind the scenes with Tonga

French clubs are most heavily represented in the pack where starts are given to Bordeaux prop Ben Tameifuna, Toulon flanker Lopeti Timani, Grenoble lock Tanginoa Halaifonua, Agen hooker Paula Ngauamo and Pau prop Sigfried Fisi’ihoi.

In the backs, Stade Francais full-back Telusa Veainu, Toulon scrum-half Sonatane Takulua and Bayonne centre Mailetoa Hingano are also picked to take on Jones’ England. Takulua captains the side while Worcester No8 Sione Vailanu is also present.

“Our main thing on Saturday is to beat a tough Tongan team that is going to be out there to do their absolute best and make their country proud,” said Jones about the Tonga opposition facing England this weekend. “What a rugby country, 100,000 and they produce per capita more fantastic rugby players than any other country in the world so we want to make sure it is a great occasion for them and a great occasion for the fans and it is part of the evolution of this England team.

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“Tonga are going to bring their most physical side. If you look at their two starting props Fisi’ihoi and Tameifuna, they are two of the most outstanding scrummaging props in the Top 14 so we know it is going to be a good, tough game.”

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