Tongan captain Sonatane Takulua gave an emotional speech following his side's 102-0 loss to the All Blacks on Saturday night, saying there's a lot going on behind the scenes many don't know about.
Tonga called upon 13 players to make their debut for the nation against the All Blacks at Mt Smart, with several of their top players not released from their European clubs while others are still in quarantine.
The Tongan side got off to a horror start as the All Blacks ran in four tries in the first 10 minutes of the match. However, as the game went on, they had small moments where they were able to test the All Blacks. With the All Blacks conceding 13 penalties, Tonga had chances to get on the board from the tee from close range but instead chose a more attacking option.
"A lot of people don't know what we're going through behind the scenes," Takulua said. "Some of us are still in quarantine. I'm proud of the brothers for putting their hands up to come and represent the jersey and represent our little country. I hope we did you proud.
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"We didn't get the result tonight but I'm very proud of my brothers here. We came here to do our best for all the supporters. Thank you for coming tonight to support the boys. This is all we can do, just give it our all."
While a big match in the context of opponent, the test against the All Blacks on Saturday night was not the most important game of the international window for Tonga, who now turn their attention to two tests against Manu Samoa which double as World Cup qualification matches.
The sides will meet at Mt Smart Stadium next Saturday while the All Blacks meet Fiji in Dunedin, before playing again the following week in Hamilton in the first match of a double-header, with the All Blacks again meeting Fiji afterwards.
The winner of that two-match series will qualify for the World Cup, while the other will have to play against the Cook Islands for the right to proceed to an Asia/Pacific World Cup qualification playoff.