Tonga aim­ing to show they can adapt to chal­lenge

The Herald - Sport - - RUGBY WORLD CUP -

THEY could yet shake things up at the top of Pool C but Tonga go into their sec­ond match against Namibia know­ing that it will now al­most cer­tainly de­cide which of these sides will fin­ish bot­tom.

Vic­tory would set the Pa­cific Is­lan­ders up for what would ef­fec­tively be a week­end de­cider with Ar­gentina in the bat­tle for the run­ners-up spot be­hind the All Blacks, par­tic­u­larly if they can pick up a bonus point.

How­ever it is in­con­ceiv­able that they will mount any sort of threat to the Pu­mas on a five-day turn-around if they are un­able to pro­duce a con­vinc­ing vic­tory against the Namib­ians, hav­ing had 10 days to re­cover phys­i­cally and, per­haps more im­por­tantly, psy­cho­log­i­cally from their shock de­feat to Ge­or­gia.

Shar­ing the lead­er­ship du­ties be­tween two men af­ter first choice cap­tain Nili Latu suc­cumbed to a ham­string in­jury, could be seen as an in­di­ca­tion of on-go­ing tur­moil but Mana Otai, their head coach, sought to ex­plain by say­ing he is look­ing at ways of en­sur­ing both the pack and back-line are fully fo­cused.

“Two heads are bet­ter than one,” he said. “I had a look at the con­nec­tions be­tween the backs and the for­wards and de­cided that two vice-cap­tains can step up to be­come co-cap­tains.”

The for­ward given ex­tra re­spon­si­bil­ity is known to Scot­tish sup­port­ers not so much for his short-lived spell at Glas­gow War­riors, which ended mys­te­ri­ously, but be­cause Vil­iami Ma’afu was the out­stand­ing player afield the day Andy Robin­son’s ten­ure as Scot­land head coach ended in Aberdeen three years ago.

He ad­mits they have not en­joyed be­ing on the re­ceiv­ing end of an up­set, how­ever and are keen to make amends, while ac­knowl­edg­ing that they need to re­act bet­ter if their orig­i­nal game­plan is not get­ting the de­sired re­sults.

“We’re hurt­ing af­ter the last game, what we learned from that game is that we need to make tac­ti­cal de­ci­sions dur­ing the game more quickly,” said Ma’afu.

CAR­RY­ING ON: Vil­iami Ma’afu, runs the ball into con­tact dur­ing Tonga’s de­feat

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