Tonga’s Jason Taumalolo excited for derby clash with Samoa

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Photo Credit- Josh Knowles, Prost International

Jason Taumalolo has recognised the importance of Sunday’s Quarter-Final as he prepares for the exciting rivalry between Tonga and Samoa to take centre stage once again.

Tonga and Samoa go head-to-head in a huge derby which is commonly referred to as the ‘islands war’ on Sunday at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

It’s the first meeting between the two sides since 2018 where Tonga ran out 38-22 winners in the 2018 Polynesian Cup. There was an attendance of 17,802 that day and there’ll be a similar number keeping an eye on Sunday’s fixture with a place in a Semi-Final at stake.

The winner of the tie will have their final four tie played at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in North London, one of the most modern stadiums within the English Premier League.

The two had fairly impressive group stages, Tonga coming out of their group unscathed with three wins from three whilst Samoa only dropped points against the host nation with a heavy defeat that came as a shock to many who had them down as favorites for the tournament opener.

Whilst Samoa didn’t look their normal selves in the first game, the second and third matches showed their quality and power as they demolished Greece and France respectively to seal a place in the final eight and set up arguably the most completive tie from the four games this weekend.

Speaking to Prost International, Taumalolo knows exactly what Tonga’s opponents will be about on Sunday afternoon.

He said:

“Given the rivalry over the years, this is a pretty important game for both countries. Both sides have a lot of support, especially back home so it should make for an interesting game.

“It’ll mean a lot back home. I’m sure everyone is doing their parades and they’ll be flooding the streets with either Tongan or Samoan flags so it’ll be important to both countries.

“I’ve played in this game two or three times and it’s always been a physical battle. Whoever can win that physical battle certainly has a foot in the door to the semi-final.”

Taumalolo also spoke about what it would mean for him and his teammates if they were to progress into the final four of the competition where their Semi Final tie would be held at the Emirates Stadium.

He added:

“The thought of getting there (Semi-Finals) is pretty exciting in itself. The chance to play at one of the most prestigious stadiums in all of the world helps give a little more motivation going into Sunday’s game so it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out.”

With the game being available to watch across the BBC like every other game from the respective tournaments, the game at the Halliwell Jones will kick off at 2:30pm local time and it’s sure to be one hell of a clash.

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