The Latest: Morath aiming for Tonga record against England
TOKYO (AP) — The Latest on the opening day of the Rugby World Cup in Japan (all times local):
Tonga head coach Toutai Kefu has included seven British-based players including flyhalf Kurt Morath in his squad for the Pool C opener against England.
Morath, captain Siale Piutau, scrumhalf Sonatane Takulua and flanker Sione Kalamafoni are the only players in the 23-man squad for Sunday’s match who were involved in Tonga’s previous Rugby World Cup appearance — against defending champion New Zealand in 2015.
Morath, who is team’s all-time international scorer with 340 test points, is aiming to Tonga’s record for most test wins. He is currently one short of Nili Latu Langilangi and Vunga Lilo, who share the record with 19 each.
Tonga lineup: David Halaifonua, Atieli Pakalani, Siale Piutau (captain), Cooper Vuna, Viliami Lolohea, Kurt Morath, Sonatane Takulua; Maama Vaipulu, Zane Kapeli, Sione Kalamafoni, Halaleva Fifita, Sam Lousi, Ben Tameifuna, Sosefo Sakalia, Siegfried ’Fisiihoi. Reserves: Siua Maile, Latu Talakai, Ma’afu Fia, Dan Faleafa, Nasi Manu, Leon Fukofuka, James Faiva, Nafi Tu’itavake.
On the eve of his first Rugby World Cup appearance, Marika Koroibete has signed a two-year extension with the Wallabies.
Rugby Australia says Koroibete, who began playing rugby union in 2017 after six seasons in the National Rugby League, including the 2016 grand final with the Melbourne Storm, would stay with the Wallabies and Super Rugby’s Melbourne Rebels until 2021.
Koroibete will start on the left wing in Australia’s World Cup opener against his native Fiji in Sapporo on Saturday. The former Fiji Rugby League international has started 22 of his 24 tests for the Wallabies since 2017, scoring nine tries.
“It was an easy decision to stay with a club that gave me a chance to play the game,” Koroibete said.
Koroibete is from the Fijian village of Naraiyawa, where he grew up on the family farm and didn’t play competitive rugby until his late high school years in Suva.
England will start its Rugby World Cup campaign with George Ford at flyhalf and captain Owen Farrell at inside center.
England head coach Eddie Jones also selected Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Billy Vunipola in the backrow for Sunday’s Pool C game against Tonga in Sapporo, meaning newcomer Lewis Ludlam is on the bench.
Farrell and Manu Tuilagi form the center combination, and Jonny May, Anthony Watson and Elliot Dally are in the back three. There was no place in the 23 for Fiji-born wing Joe Cokanasiga, who has been struggling with a knee injury.
As expected, Vunipola’s brother Mako is not fit, so Kyle Sinckler comes in at tighthead prop alongside hooker Jamie George and loosehead Joe Marler.
Jones says England is expecting a “ferocious” challenge from a Tonga lineup which will be “full of pride and passion.”
England Lineup: Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell, Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Billy Vunipola, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Kyle Sinckler, Jamie George, Joe Marler. Reserves: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Dan Cole, George Kruis, Lewis Ludlam, Willi Heinz, Henry Slade, Jonathan Joseph.
Namibia head coach Phil Davies has elevated lock Tjiuee Uanivi to lead the team in the absence of Johan Deysel for its Rugby World Cup opener against Italy.
Namibia is participating in its sixth World Cup and scrumhalf Eugene Jantjies will feature in his fourth if he comes off the bench against the Italians in a Pool B game on Sunday at Hanazono Rugby Stadium.
Center Darryl De La Harpe was selected in the centers to make his 50th test appearance for Namibia.
The squads for Sunday’s three group games are scheduled to be announced before the tournament opener between host Japan and Russia at Tokyo Stadium later Friday.
Defending champion New Zealand and two-time champion South Africa are meeting Saturday in the first of the Pool B games.
Namibia lineup: Johan Tromp, Chad Plato, Justin Newman, Darryl De La Harpe, JC Greyling, Cliven Loubser, Damian Stevens; Janco Venter, Wian Conradie, Rohan Kitshoff, Tjiuee Uanivi (captain), PJ Van Lill, Johannes Coetzee, Torsten George Van Jaarsveld, Andre Rademeyer. Reserves: Louis van der Westhuizen, AJ De Klerk, Nelius Theron, Johan Retief, Max Katjijeko, Eugene Jantjies, Helarius Axasman Kisting, Lesley Klim.
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