22 Oct 2022
What are the teams for Tonga v Wales men at the Rugby League World Cup?
Konrad Hurrell returns for Tonga in a crunch clash against Wales.
By Charlie Bennett
John Kear hailed Wales’ performance against Cook Islands as their “best in a long time” but knows they now need to points on the board against Tonga, to keep their quarter-final hopes alive.
The Dragons went down 18-12 on Wednesday night and now face in-form Tonga, who beat Papua New Guinea in their opening game.
Wales have lost eight consecutive Rugby League World Cup matches and made four changes to their squad as they bid to reverse that trend.
Gavin Bennion, Kyle Evans, James Olds and Luke Thomas are all in and replace Will Evans, Rhodri Lloyd, Ben Evans and Mike Butt.
Tonga welcome back Konrad Hurrell but are again without Will Hopoate, who has a muscle injury, and Jason Taumalolo, who is still suspended.
Tonga: 6. Talatau Amone, 18. David Fifita, 8. Addin Fonua-Blake, 17. Moeaki Fotuaika, 23. Konrad Hurrell, 5. Sione Katoa, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Keaon Koloamatangi, 20. Toluta’u Koula, 7. Tuimoala Lolohea, 14. Soni Luke, 21. Ben Murdoch-Masila, 22. Tesi Niu, 15. Haumole Olakau’atu, 4. Will Penisini, 3. Siosifa Talakai, 16. Tevita Tatola, 10. Sio Siua Taukeiaho, 2. Daniel Tupou
Wales: 1. Caleb Aekins, 17. Bailey Antrobus, 24. Gavin Bennion, 16. Joe Burke, 12. Chester Butler, 15. Curtis Davies, 18. Connor Davies, 22. Kyle Evans, 10. Dan Fleming, 9. Matty Fozard, 5. Dalton Grant, 21. Tom Hopkins, 6. Elliot Kear, 23. James Olds, 14. Ollie Olds, 7. Josh Ralph, 25. Luke Thomas, 8. Anthony Walker, 2. Rhys Williams
This will be the first meeting between Tonga and Wales in a full international.
Tonga have had 53% possession across the men’s Rugby League World Cup since the beginning of the 2017 campaign, the third highest of any team at the tournament while only Jamaica (42%) have a lower rate than Wales (43%) in that time.
Tonga have won seven of their last eight games at the men’s Rugby League World Cup and haven’t lost a game during the group stage since a 26-24 loss to Scotland in the opening round of the 2013 tournament.
Wales have lost their last eight consecutive games against teams from the southern hemisphere, conceding 50 points or more in a game on five occasions in that stretch; their last win in such a fixture came in November 2000 against Papua New Guinea (22-8).
Players to watch
- Tonga's Daniel Tupou has scored a try in three of his last four appearances for Tonga (not including Invitational teams), but has only crossed for a try in one of his previous nine games at the Rugby League World Cup (2 tries v Scotland in 2017).
- Ollie Olds showed he has a nose for the tryline when he jinked his way through to score against Cook Islands. Tonga will know they have to keep him quiet on Monday.
The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets