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Tonga coach Toutai Kefu has taken a cheeky dig at the All Blacks saying it's about time New Zealand gives back to Pacific Island rugby.
NZ Rugby announced Wednesday that Tonga and Fiji will play in a double-header at Eden Park on August 31, along with a clash between Manu Samoa and the New Zealand Heartland XV.
When asked if he was pleased to see NZ Rugby give something back to the islands, Kefu replied with a cheeky sledge.
"I think so, since half their team are all islanders," Kefu told 1News.
"Look I think it's a great concept. It's an afternoon game, which is family friendly. We've just got to build up some interest and hopefully we fill the stadium out."
A significant number of players signed with NZ Rugby – including many who have represented the All Blacks – have Pacific Island heritage.
Kefu said he hopes the initiative can draw a passionate Tongan crowd as seen when the Tongan rugby league team visited New Zealand in recent years.
"I think it's more good than bad, our guys play on emotion, and they get a lot of that emotion from family, from supporters," he told 1News.
"It could be a distraction, sure, but it's more of a plus for us.
"And if we can feed off that and use that, it's going to put us in good stead."
The Eden Park double-header is billed as the 'Pasifika Challenge II – Road to Japan'.
Tonga will face the All Blacks in Hamilton a week later as a warm-up match for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
SOURCE: NZ HERALD/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
Media Helping Media