Tonga at home in the village
Tasting Fijian hospitality and life has suited team Tonga very well and they feel they have been in the best village in Fiji for their stay during the Oceania under 19s championship. They are all sharing a big hall and this has mattresses everywhere and the lads are all snoring, relaxing and living in this room.
Inside there is a blackboard for ideas and learning sessions with the boys, the coaches talked through angles, styles and strategies for the game. This is the first time I have seen tackle bags come out indoors and the boys were walked through the processes they were to employ in the ruck area against Fiji. This was all done calmly, slowly and every one of the boys was firmly concentrating on the coaches, not a word was spoken and all eyes were full speed at the coach as he spoke. Below the blackboard with their notes was the team motto. Walk on, walk strong, walk tall. And they are doing just that while here in Fiji. Coach Isatola Maka comes with a great history on the field, he was a devastating All Blacks number 8 and off the field he has quickly won the respect of the young players. So much so that asked who they young players favourite player was? They answered "the Tongan Cyclone"- none other than Isatola Maka their coach.
Some of the boys took an IRB representative for a walkabout the village and it was a great chance to get photos of them in their new home. They seemed very relaxed and at ease in the village setting, all the locals call out to them and they also enjoyed the swimming hole.
In this competition they have already played 3 games in 6 days, bodies are tired but there are no complaints coming from this team. The management has purposely limited the amount of impact training and allowed the boys plenty of chill time. Yesterday they had a beach visit, some hit the town for a while during the day and a lot of time is resting in their hall watching DVD's and sleeping.
With finals time looming it is a good time to ask a few questions on how they think they will go against Fiji in the final.
questions to Isatola Maka the Tongan coach
Q: Have you found any weaknesses in the Fiji team you can exploit?
A: Yes but i am keeping that to myself, you will find out tomorrow.
Q: Do you think you can turn it around and beat them in the final?
A: We will not just beat them we will rip them apart.
questions to the whole team
Q: How are you going to beat Fiji?
A: By working together as a team
Q: Are your bodies tired after 3 games in 6 days so far?
A: No not at all, we just want kick-off now!
Q: Who do you think is the hardest team to play?
A: No one is hard
These are all good answers, they are confident, they look super ready and come finals time at 4pm Fiji time Friday this will be one very very hard team to beat.
Full match deatils are:
Friday 12 September 2008
FORU U19 tournament 2008
Prince Charles Park, Nadi
12.00midday Samoa v Tahiti
2.00pm PNG v Vanuatu
4.00pm Fiji v Tonga