Tonga aiming to show they can adapt to challenge
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