A fresh face to the international rugby scene is set to line-up for Tonga against the All Blacks on Saturday – so new that even head coach Toutai Kefu admits he "still doesn't know much about him".
Uncapped Siua Maile was a shock inclusion to Tonga's Rugby World Cup squad announced earlier this week as the side's third-choice hooker.
It wasn't likely Maile would play for Tonga during the tournament but with injuries to Paula Ngauamo and Sosefo Sakalia, the 22-year-old Shirley player is now set to make his test debut against the World Champion All Blacks.
Revealing that Maile was still settling from the shock of his call-up, Kefu said it was an exciting opportunity for the young star.
"I think he's still a bit shocked but he's taking it on well," Kefu told media today ahead of the clash in Hamilton. "There's not much we can do with two hookers out so we need to roll the dice.
"What a baptism of fire, he's got a massive opportunity, got nothing to lose so he's looking forward to it."
Maile, who grew up in Tonga, moved to New Zealand for schooling and now juggles his rugby commitments with full-time work as a roofer in Christchurch.
It's been a challenging balancing act for the young player but has resulted in a stand-out work ethic both on and off the pitch.
"He's a good young kid, he's keen, he's eager, I saw him train yesterday and he was in the thick of it," Kefu said.
"I actually had to tell him to tone it down a little bit, which is great, that's what you want to do with players. You don't want to say to players to 'lift the intensity,' [so] I think he's going to do well."
Shirley Rugby Club have put their full support behind Maile, who plays alongside his brother Ngase for the club's premier side.
A quiz night will be held at the club rooms next week to raise funds for the front-rower, who is taking time off work.
Meanwhile Tonga have also recalled some experienced heads to take on the All Blacks with flanker Sione Kalamafoni, first five Kurt Morath and winger Cooper Vuna back in the starting side.
Tonga will meet the All Blacks in Hamilton on Saturday afternoon.
Tonga squad to face All Blacks:
Siegfried 'Fisiihoi, Siua Maile*, Siua 'Halanukonuka, Sam Lousi, Leva Fifita, Sione Kalamafoni, Fotu 'Lokotui, Maama 'Vaipulu, Sonatane Takulua, Kurt Morath, Viliami Lolohea, Siale Piutau, Malietoa Hingano, Cooper Vuna, David Halaifonua.
Reserves: Sione Anga'aelangi, Vunipola Fifita, Ma'afu Fia, Dan Faleafa, Zane 'Kapeli, Leon 'Fukofuka, James 'Faiva, Atieli Pakalani.
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