RWC23: Scotland v Tonga: Tongans unchanged as skipper and Finn Russell invoke ‘Call of Duty’ black-out

Tongan captain Ben Tameifuna says he has not seen Scotland playmaker online all week

Tonga take on Scotland on Sunday night. Image courtesy: World Rugby
Tonga take on Scotland on Sunday night. Image courtesy: World Rugby

TONGA skipper Ben Tameifuna says there has been a ‘Call of Duty’ black-out between himself and his old Racing 92 buddy Finn Russell this week as the two players have prepared to face-off against each other in Sunday’s crucial World Cup Pool B match in Nice.

“No, we’ve been pretty quiet really,” said Tameifuna. “We normally play ‘Call of Duty’ together but I haven’t seen him online all week. It’s been quiet, but we’ll have a chat after the game.”

“I played with Finn at Racing, I know his tricks and his little inside balls and dummies and stuff. It will be good to see him again on the field. We’re excited and looking forward to this weekend. We’ve just been focussing on ourselves and putting our best foot forward after last week.”

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Meanwhile, head coach Toutai Kefu has named an unchanged team for Sunday’s match to the side he sent out against Ireland last weekend. That means Glasgow Warriors back-rower Sione Vailanu starts among the replacements once again.

“They are our best players and I think after last week’s performance, it probably wasn’t our best version of us,” he reasoned. “They deserved another chance. The only difference is Adam Coleman comes onto the bench and he might be able to give us a bit of an impact off the bench.

“We are desperate to win,” he added. “Last week wasn’t us so we want to fix that. Our mindset has always been take each game as it comes. We don’t want to look too far down the road. We didn’t start thinking about Scotland until after the Ireland game.

“The dream is to win three games in a row. That would be a dream. We can’t look too far ahead of ourselves. We are fully focussed on performance. Our preparation has been okay this week.

“The boys are probably a little bit hungover from last week’s performance. They were devastated. We didn’t fire any shots at all. To Ireland’s credit, they kept us under sustained pressure. We definitely want to put the best version of ourselves on this week.”

Kefu added: “This is a totally different squad [to the one which lost heavily to Scotland in 2021]. I think there’s only one of two players left over from that squad. They did beat us quite convincingly so I’d like to think we will be a lot more competitive, a lot more organised.

“Last week was a massive disappointment. We will put our best foot forward this weekend and show what we’ve been building over the past couple of months.”


Tonga (versus Scotland on Sunday @ Stade de Nice, kick-off 4.45pm GMT): S Piutau; S Kata, M Fekitoa, P Ahki, A Taumpepeau; W Havili, A Pulu; S Fisi’ihoi, P Ngauamo, B Tameifuna (C), H Fifita, S Lousi, T Halaifonua, S Talitui, V Fifita. Replacements: S Moli, T Koloamatangi, S Apikotoa, A Coleman, S Paea, S Vailanu, S Takulua, P Pellegrini.

RWC23: Scotland v Tonga: four changes to Scots side for Sunday’s clash

About David Barnes 3991 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.