At times, it seems as though everyone wants to play for Tonga these days.
Former All Black Charles Piutau has expressed that wish for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, if the words of Coach Toutai Kefu are to be taken at face value.
Piutau would be a real coup for Tonga.
According to Kefu, “I’ve spoken to him a few times and his brother (Siale) as well – he’s very determined to play for Tonga so we’re very happy about that,” he told Radio New Zealand.
Piutau has played 17 Tests for the All Blacks, but he was absent from the side for the last World Cup squad because he had signed a contract to play for Ulster.
All he needs to do in order to qualify for Tonga is hold a passport for the country and sit out international rugby for three years.
Piutau will become the highest player in rugby next season when he switches to Bristol (note to Piutau: avoid the pubs there lest you suffer the same fate as Ben Stokes) and he played under 20s footy for Tonga back when he was under 20. He is currently 26.
Kefu is after some other players as he builds Tonga’s list for 2019.
There’s a winger in France now by the name of Frank Halai, who’s had also a cap for the All Blacks. He’s a player we’re very much interested in and he’s a player that’s very much interested in coming to play for us,” said Kefu. “There’s also some ex Wallabies: Sitaleki Timani and also Anthony Fainga’a – there’s a few more as well but that’s just the few names that scratch the surface.”
The trend, if it can be called such, of international players jumping the major clubs to play for countries such as Tonga or Fiji is certainly an interesting development, unless you include supporters of the Wallabies and All Blacks.