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Thread: Family ties run deep USA v Tonga

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    Veteran Contributor frontrow's Avatar
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    Family ties run deep USA v Tonga

    Eagles show that family matters
    (Rugby News Service) Monday 10 September 2007
    By Flip Byrnes

    LYON, 10 September When the USA take on Tonga on Wednesday, many in the United States side will be lining up against a team sharing the same heritage - and even the same family.

    The USA team announced on Monday contains seven players of Pacific Islander descent; two Samoan and five with Tongan ancestry.

    The two teams also share familial links.

    The Tonga coach, Quddus Fielea, is the uncle of prop Matekitonga Moeakiola, who scored the USA's try against England on Saturday.

    Not that there has been any game plan information passed along. "I try to stay away," said Moeakiola.

    Making two nations proud

    Centre Vahafolau Esikia (USA) admits to some reservations about playing Tonga.

    "I'm a little nervous playing against my own blood. Even though I am American, part of me is Tongan. I still have a lot of family there," he said.

    And his family are proud of him. Esikia's grandparents will be sporting the Eagles from their small village in Tonga when they watch the match.

    "A month ago they asked me to send all the US gear and they will be wearing it proudly. In Tonga," said Esikia.

    Henry Bloomfield (USA), born in the United States, has found himself fidgeting during motivational talks against the Tongans. "Listening to people talk about Tongans is weird, you take your heritage seriously and proudly," the number 8 said.

    Commitment


    There is no question of his commitment to the shirt, however. "I want to perform the best I can for the USA, because it's my team and it will make my family back in Tonga proud as well," he said.


    In two further Tongan twists, Esikia and Bloomfield are related, both with family on the island of Valau. Esikia also shares a best friend, Tapu Tonga, with the Tongan centre Nili Latu.

    "We're both best friends with him (Tonga), so he has to be careful not to say anything," said Esikia.

    Bloomfield, Esikia and Moeakiola sometimes speak Tongan with the other players of Islander descent on the USA team, including Salesi Sika, Valenese Malifa, Thretton Palamo and Fifita Mounga.

    This language knowledge could also help the USA side when playing the Tongans. "Well, we'll know what they're saying," said Bloomfield.

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    Veteran Contributor LarryNJ's Avatar
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    That's a cool story. Gotta love the last comment. "Well, we'll know what they're saying,"

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