By Robert Burgin, (RLP RLWC Correspondent) Date: 29/10/13
WILD weather, a journey to the outskirts of England and a must-win game face Tonga as the Mate Ma’a head to Workington for Day Four of the Rugby League World Cup.
In Scotland, the Pacific Islanders will find an opponent accustomed to the blustery, downcast conditions which have been brought to Britain by hurricane-like storm St Jude.
Pressed against the Irish Sea, Workington is a stone’s throw from the Scottish border, a gritty former Viking settlement famed for producing coal, steel and iron ore.
While the townsfolk are likely to extend the famed northern hospitality which has greeted other teams thus far, the assignment will be no holiday.
Indeed, after Italy’s flying start to their campaign, both Tonga and Scotland could be left behind in Group C if they falter.
On paper the Group C winner will have one of the better paths into the finals, avoiding both Australia and England until at least the second-last week and possibly the final.
That said, they will hit a significant hurdle in New Zealand along the way.
Tonga has every reason be considered a possible semi-final candidate after its impressive mid-year win against Samoa and boasting one of the best centre pairings in the cup – Jorge Taufua and Konrad Hurrell.
Up front, captain Brent Kite and Fuifui Moimoi are also in select company.
Where the Tongans need to prove themselves will be the ball-playing triangle of five-eighth Samisoni Langi, half Daniel Foster and hooker Siliva Havili.
Langi, Foster and Havili boast just two games of NRL experience between them, while the Scottish pivots Peter Wallace and Danny Brough have a cumulative total of almost 400 first grade games alone.
The Bravehearts have bustling North Queensland centre Kane Linnett at their disposal as well, set to line up in a mouth-watering personal duel out wide against Hurrell.
Scottish coach Steve McCormack has used Workington as Scotland’s pre-tournament base and it will be interesting to see how many attend the newly-refurbished 10,000-seater Derwent Park.
The West Cumbria region has no representation in Super League – much to the area’s chagrin – but is well credentialed at the second-tier Championship level, with Workington, Whitehaven and Barrow all present.
SCOTLAND: (Numbers yet to be allocated) Danny Addy, Danny Brough (c), Brett Carter, Luke Douglas, Dale Ferguson, Ben Fisher, Ben Hellewell, Ian Henderson, Alex Hurst, Ben Kavanagh, Kane Linnett, Brett Phillips, Matthew Russell, David Scott,Mitchell Stringer, Alex Szostak, Adam Walker, Peter Wallace, Oliver Wilkes.
TONGA: 1. Glen Fisi’iahi, 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Jorge Taufua, 4. Konrad Hurrell, 5. Sosaia Feki, 6. Samisoni Langi, 7. Daniel Foster, 8. Brent Kite, 9. Siliva Havili, 10. Fuifui Moimoi, 11. Sika Manu, 12. Jason Taumalolo, 13. Willie Manu. Interchange: 14. Nafe Seluini, 15. Ben Murdoch-Masila, 16. Ukuma Ta’ai, 17. Mickey Paea, 18. Siosaia Vave, 19. Siuatonga Likiliki.