AUCKLand, Sept 8, 2011 (AFP) : Despite the odds weighing heavily against Tonga they believe it is the All Blacks who face the most pressure going into their opening World Cup match at Eden Park here Friday.
The Tongans, boosted by captain and former Toulouse enforcer Finau Maka passing a fitness test after suffering an Achilles strain last week, believe that as a second tier side they had nothing to lose.
But they pointed to the pressure on the tournament favourite All Blacks who carry the expectations of rugby-obsessed New Zealanders to end 24 years of being derailed at World Cups.
“There’s a lot of expectation on the All Blacks about how they’ll perform in the World Cup. A lot of people will be looking at their selections and looking at their players to see how they play,” Tonga technical coach John McKee said.“For Tonga, it’s about playing the game we want to play, playing the way we’ve practised and planned to play this game, executing things well and really taking the All Blacks on.
“I don’t think our guys will have the same pressure that the All Blacks will have.”McKee said Tonga would focus on their strengths of preferring a strong, physical game, strong ball carrying and and tackling effectively.Their scrum also has a strong link to the All Blacks with Tongan scrum coach Dan Cron a son of the All Blacks scrum coach Mike Cron.