Ton­gans on the right path

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - SPORT - TOM BOSWELL

THEY are the halves chang­ing per­cep­tions of Pa­cific rugby league teams hav­ing an in­abil­ity to pro­duce qual­ity play­mak­ers.

The Syd­ney Roost­ers’ Samisoni Langi, 21, and Wests Tigers’ Joel Luani, 23, were en­trusted with lead­ing Tonga around Robina’s Cbus Su­per Sta­dium in their 18-16 Pa­cific Test loss to Samoa on Satur­day night.

While both have been limited to 12 NRL games be­tween them, Langi and Luani’s abil­ity saw them com­pete at the 2013 World Cup.

They have a keen sense of how the game should un­fold and a hard­nosed ap­proach to both attack and de­fence.

Langi has played un­der­study to Roost­ers and for­mer NSW halves pair­ing James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce and backed him­self to make his mark in the back­line.

“We def­i­nitely have some cre­ative abil­ity in there and there are some young guys in the team, in­clud­ing the front-row, which are strong with the ball in hand,” Langi said.

“It sets a good plat­form for my­self and the team and it was great to get out there.

“I have been play­ing in the back­row at the Roost­ers and a bit in the halves but I wouldn’t mind play­ing a six role or ball-play­ing back-rower.”

Luani rep­re­sented the USA Tom­a­hawks at the last World Cup where he held his own against the likes of Australia in a 62-0 de­feat in Wrex­ham.

He said the ex­pe­ri­ence had fu­elled his de­sire to play at the top level.

“It is ex­cit­ing be­cause I watched that (Tonga-Samoa) game two years ago,’’ Luani said. ‘‘It was a bru­tal game and some­thing I have al­ways wanted to be part of.

“To rep­re­sent Tonga, which is mainly what I grew up with, is some­thing very spe­cial.”

TOP PLAY­MAK­ERS: Joel Luani at­tacks for Tonga and (inset) Samisoni Langi. Main pic­ture: Getty Images

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