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Tonga trying to sway Super Rugby's Pacific talent

Radio New Zealand have reported that Tonga head coach Toutai Kefu has new high-level talent in his sights as he builds towards his side’s upcoming Northern tour.

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Former Wallaby Toutai Kefu said he will be looking at recruiting some new talent, including the likes of Chiefs winger Toni Pulu, Sunwolves winger Hosea Saumaki and former Hurricanes prop Loni Uhila.

“Toni Pulu is one of them. There are a couple of props overseas as well,” Kefu said.

“Pauliasi Manu is still at the Blues, we would love him to come and join us.

“There’s also [Ospreys prop] Ma’afu Fia who played down for the Highlanders, he is a prop that we have had our eye on.

“We are also looking at some halfback depth and we are also looking at Hosea Saumaki who plays wing for the Sunwolves,” Kefu said.

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26-year-old Saumaki was born in Tonga, and has previously represented his homeland in rugby sevens. He was included in Japan’s 43-man squad for their June tests in 2016, but due to complications with previously representing Tonga he was unable to gain clearance from World Rugby.

After a successful Pacific Nations Cup that saw Tonga score victories over rivals Samoa and Fiji, Kefu said he hoped their success would help in the recruiting drive.

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“You know with us winning, it makes us a more attractive commodity for those types of players who are interested in coming to play for Tonga,” he said.

Tonga will play Georgia and Wales on their November Northern tour, with other fixtures a possibility.

“There is one more test that we are trying to source out but that is the next port of call. My focus is now putting a squad together for that campaign and planning and getting prepared for that,” Kefu said.

“Hopefully we can take some of the learnings we have taken out of June and keep that momentum going. We definitely want to keep that winning momentum moving into the World Cup next year.”

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