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Manu: I can see why people are saying this is the best Tonga side
3:45pm Thursday 24th October 2013 in Sport
THE Tonga Rugby League team took on the British Army in an exciting open training session at Leigh Sports Village yesterday.
An impressive crowd gathered at the Tongans’ training base for the Rugby League World Cup, witnessing a competitive friendly that proved Brent Kite’s men have the potential to go far into the tournament.
To the delight of the schoolchildren - and adults - who braved a wild autumn day, some of the superstars of the game, including Brent Kite, Fuifui Moimoi and Sika Manu, then met the crowd, signing autographs and converting some of them to the Tongan cause ahead of their game against the Cook Islands at Leigh Sports Village on November 5.
“It was great to have a contact game with the army boys, and we really respect them for coming from all over the country to give us a game,” said St Helens forward Willie Manu.
“People are saying this is the best Tongan team that’s ever been put together, and looking at the boys train, I can see why.”
“It was really good to be out there in a competitive environment,” added Hull FC’s Mickey Paea.
“The boys are pretty pumped to be playing again after a busy two weeks. It’s business time now."
And after witnessing their potential first hand, Army Rugby League Vets Manager SSgt Jamie Doig thinks Tonga will go far in the tournament.
“Looking at the drills, as long as they can adapt to the UK weather I think you’re looking at quarter finals at least,” he said.
“I don’t think they’ll have a problem against Scotland the way they were running out today.
“It was fantastic playing against the likes of Fuifui Moimoi - when he’s going into a tackle he’s got this gentle giant grin on his face. So you know you’re going to get hurt!
"But you couldn’t ask for a better bunch of lads to play against. Our boys have driven from Cambridge, Colchester and Devon to take on Tonga and haven’t let themselves down in any way.”
Tonga play The Cook Islands in the Rugby League World Cup at Leigh Sports Village on November 5. To buy tickets go to www.rlwc2013.com/leigh or visit the box office at LSV.
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