Tonga refocus for Pacific showdown
After storming to an emotional 50-4 victory over Scotland to open their campaign, Mate Ma'a Tonga are determined to make sure they aren't a one hit wonder at the Rugby League World Cup.
Among the best performers in Week 1, Tonga ran in nine tries in sweltering conditions in Cairns and added to the growing expectation that they could become the most successful tier-two nation in World Cup history.
But ahead of Saturday night's clash with Samoa in Hamilton, Tonga captain Sika Manu told NRL.com it was vital his side cleared the Scotland result from their minds.
"It's really important we come down from last week. It was such an emotional game, we just need to settle down and remember that we have got a game this week," Manu said.
"We need to sharpen up on our attack, we were a bit poor there in the second half against Scotland. We started well, now we need to finish well this week too.
"All focus on Samoa this weekend because we need to do a good job. Samoa is going to be a real challenge and a lot tougher than Scotland were."
Scotland had no answer for Tonga's star-studded forward pack, led by 2016 Dally M Medal winner Jason Taumalolo and current NSW Origin enforcer Andrew Fifita, and by the end of the match the island nation had run for over 800 metres more than the Bravehearts.
Tonga five-eighth Tuimoala Lolohea said a good performance against Samoa this weekend was even more significant given they face New Zealand a week later, in a match which could decide who tops Pool B.
"It's massive, this game is pretty important to us and I think if we can get a win in this game it will give us a lot of confidence going into the third game against the Kiwis," Lolohea told NRL.com.
"[This week has been] kind of just like playing in an NRL season where I guess you have got to embrace the win after the game. But it's been a couple of days now and we need to look ahead to the next game. It's a short turnaround.
"Samoa is going to be a real physical game. Both teams have a lot of big boys, a lot of aggression, so it's going to be a big one."
Tonga coach Kristian Woolf has tweaked his team for the Samoa clash, bringing in centre Solomone Kata and wing David Fusitu'a, with the pair replacing their former New Zealand Warriors teammates Konrad Hurrell and Manu Vatuvei in the squad.
TONGA v SAMOA
7.30pm Saturday local (4.30pm Qld)
Waikato Stadium, Waikato
Tonga: 1 William Hopoate, 2 Daniel Tupou, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Solomone Kata, 5 David Fusitu’a, 6 Tuimoala Lolohea, 7 Mafoa'aeata Hingano, 8 Andrew Fifita, 9 Siliva Havili, 10 Sio Siua Taukeiaho, 11 Manu Ma'u, 12 Sika Manu (c), 13 Jason Taumalolo, 14 Sione Katoa, 15 Sam Moa, 16 Peni Terepo, 17 Ben Murdoch-Masila, 18 Ukuma Ta’ai, 19 Manu Vatuvei, 20 Konrad Hurrell, 21 Samisoni Langi.
Samoa: 1 Young Tonumaipea, 2 Ricky Leutele, 3 Timoteo Lafai, 4 Joseph Leilua, 5 Ken Maumalo, 6 Joseph Paulo, 7 Ben Roberts, 8 Junior Paulo, 9 Jazz Tevaga, 10 Herman Ese'ese, 11 Joshua Papalii, 12 Frank Pritchard (c), 13 Leeson Ah Mau, 14 Fa'amanu Brown, 15 Zane Musgrove, 16 Sam Lisone, 17 Bunty Afoa, 18 Sam Tagataese, 19 Frank Winterstein, 20 Jarome Luai, 21 Matthew Wright.
First published on NRL.com.