Nuku’alofa, Friday 4 September 2015: Head Coach Mana ‘Otai and Manager Sioape Tuiono have named the squad to face Romania this Saturday evening (local time) at Stadionul National de Rugby Arcul de Triumf in Bucharest. This match up will carry a special significance fpr the team as they prepare to take the field in support of former ‘Ikale Tahi Flanker, and Romanian club CSM Baia Marie player Sione Vaiomo’unga, who was diagnosed with renal failure last year, and is currently unable to leave Romania due to the inability to access dialysis in Tonga.
This weekend provides the current ‘Ikale Tahi squad with an opportunity to reach out to their brother, and provide support themselves. Regarding the significance of the match, Head Coach Mana ‘Otai said “We couldn’t ask for a better person to play this game [for] – especially to dedicate the game to him, given the talent and the unfortunate situation that he is in. He would have been in the team [for the Rugby World Cup], I can assure you, if it wasn’t for his illness because that’s the player that he is and showed at the last World Cup”.
The team is as follows:
|1||Soane Tonga’uiha||Vaini (Tt) & Houma (Tt)||Oyonnax|
|2||Elvis Taione||Kolomotu’a(Tt) & Ha’akio(Vv)||Exeter Chiefs|
|4||Tukulua Lokotui||Ha’ateiho(Tt) & Mo’unga’one(Hp)||Beziers|
|5||Joe Tuineau||Fasi Moe Afi ‘A Tungi (Tt)||Dax|
|6||Steve Mafi||‘Ahau (Tt) & Kolovai (Tt)||Western Force|
|8||Sione Kalamafoni||Matahau, Te’ekiu (Tt) & ‘Otea (Vv)||Gloucester|
|9||Sonatane Takulua||Lapaha (Tt)||Newcastle Falcons|
|10||Kurt Morath||Leimatu’a & Falevai (Vv)||Biarritz|
|11||Fetu’u Vainikolo||Ha’alalo (Tt)||Oyonnax|
|12||Siale Piutau||Kolofo’ou & Folaha (Tt)||Yamaha|
|13||Uili Kolo’ofai||Niuatoputapu & Kolomotu’a (Tt)||Newcastle Falcons|
|14||David Halaifonua||Tukulalo, Houma (Vv) & Fatumu (Tt)||Gloucester|
|15||Telusa Veainu||Matahau (Tt) & Longolongo (Tt)||Melbourne Rebels|
|16||Paula Ngauamo||Vaini, Kolomotu’a, Fasi & Kolofo’ou (Tt)||Mont de Marsan|
|17||Sona Taumalolo||Ha’akame (Tt)||Grenoble|
|18||Sila Puafisi||Ha’ateiho (Tt) & Longomapu (Vv)||Gloucester|
|19||Hale T Pole||Muitoa (Hp) & Fua’amotu (Tt)||Otago|
|20||Viliami Ma’afu||Kolovai (Tt)||Oyonnax|
|21||Sosefo Ma’ake||Feletoa (Vv) & Haveluloto (Tt)||Havelu Bulldogs|
|22||Vungakoto Lilo||Koula (Hp) & Foa (Hp)||Montauban|
|23||Latiume Fosita||Haveluloto (Tt) & Felemea (Hp)||Doncaster|
Due to his status in Romania as a foreign national, healthcare has been problematic, and while Vaiomo’unga has maintained a positive attitude throughout, with the support of the global Tongan community and his faith, long term Vaiomo’unga will need a kidney transplant, which he is currently not entitled to receive under Romanian health care.
The Romanian Government is working to intercede on Vaiomo’unga’s behalf, while CSM Baia Marie and the local Romanian community have been involved alongside the Tongan community in assisting with the ongoing support, ensuring he has access to dialysis three times a week
The team will be taking time to have Vaiomo’unga join them throughout the week they are in Romania, and will be working to assist in getting further long term solutions where possible.
The match will be aired on Romanian national television, at the time of release we are still awaiting confirmation around live streams for fans outside of Romania.