TONGAN SKIPPER Finau Maka is in doubt for tomorrow night’s opening Rugby World Cup clash against the All Blacks at Eden Park.
The openside flanker has been named to start on the side of the scrum, but is struggling to overcome an ankle injury, says coach and brother Isitolo Maka.
“We have to finalise it tomorrow,” he says giving no guarantees that he would start.
Even though he was for train separately from the squad yesterday, Finau says he would start the match: “I'll play.”
Isitolo Maka has made seven changes to the side which beat Fiji in a RWC warm-up match last month.
“We've looked at the speed of the New Zealand team and the way they play.
“We're looking at the fittest guys that we've got. Probably we can match them fitness-wise.”
Wing Siale Piutau, halfback Taniela Moa, No 8 Viliami Ma'afu, lock Joe Tuineau and prop Soane Tonga'uiha and Taufa'ao Filise will all be familiar faces to New Zealand rugby fans having played at Super and provincial rugby in recent times.
Filise has been named at prop after a four-year absence from the team
Tonga: Vungakoto Lilo, Viliame Iongi, Sukanaivalu Hufanga, Andrew Mailei, Siale Piutau, Kurt Morath, Taniela Moa, Viliami Ma'afu, Sione Kalamafoni, Joseph Tuineau, Paino Hehea, Taufa'ao Filise, Aleki Lutui, Soane Tonga'uiha.
Reserves: Ephraim Taukafa, Sona Taumalolo, Kisi Pulu, Sione Timani, Samiu Vahafolau, Samisoni Fisilau, Alapati Fatafehi
With the series level, expect both teams to put it all on the line as they seek to win the deciding test in Sydney on Saturday night.