Charles Piutau has expressed his desire to play for Tonga, and believes that a Rugby World Cup quarter-final appearance may be possible for the Pacific Island nation.
Following changes to World Rugby’s eligibility rules, a host of former New Zealand and Australia internationals will be able to play for Tonga next year, with Piutau just one of a number of high-profile names who could make the switch.
Tonga are yet to qualify for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, but they are likely to end up in Pool B with reigning world champions South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and another European team who haven’t secured their qualification yet.
Piutau was speaking to the Daily Mail about switching his international allegiance and having the opportunity to play for Tonga at the Rugby World Cup.
Charles Piutau on playing for Tonga at the Rugby World Cup.
“Hopefully it makes it more competitive, and allows us to kick on further in that tournament, whether it’s a quarter-finals or something,” Piutau said.
“Being able to turn over a tier one nation would add to the World Cup, and would be great for fans watching too.
“I’m excited to test my abilities on that stage again. An opportunity to play at a World Cup is something all players would like to be a part of.”
Tonga could be a force to be reckoned with next year. ?https://t.co/zeqFQ6nheM
— Pundit Arena (@PunditArena) November 25, 2021
The Pacific Island will be hoping to cause major upsets.
Tonga still have to qualify for the next Rugby World Cup, and will have to beat one of South Korea, Hong Kong or Malaysia in a two-legged qualifier to book their place in France.
‘Ikale Tahi would be expected to beat those three sides as things stand, but they should prove to be far too strong for them if a number of star players switch nationality to represent Tonga.
Samoa and Fiji could also benefit considerably from the eligibility changes, and will also be hoping to make it to the last eight at the next World Cup.
Fiji will have their work cut out for them in Pool C with Australia and Wales, but Samoa will be quietly confident about their chances of progression, as they face England, Japan and Argentina in Pool D.