We are extremely proud of our Midlands Delivery Lead, Aleki Lutui who has been selected to assist the Tonga squad in their Autumn Internationals campaign.

Aleki is an ex-international player himself playing hooker for Tonga, earning 37 caps. Alekis role within the Tongan coaching team involves a mixture of coaching the forwards, team influence, pastoral care and presenting the players selected to represent Tonga against England on Saturday with their match day shirts.

“It’s a great honor for me to help out with our national team’s preparation for their match against England this weekend. The Tongan rugby CEO contacted me in September and I am delighted to be able to contribute and support in any way I can” explained Aleki when asked about how he landed the role. “It’s been great spending time with the boys and seeing them training extremely hard. It’s also been really good learning from international professional rugby coaches.”

Tonga suffered a big defeat against Scotland last weekend at Murreyfield losing 60-14. “We had very limited time to prepare for our match against Scotland last week but came away with both positives and negatives of how we played. This week we have had a bit more time to prepare as a team for our upcoming match versus England.”

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Aleki is looking forward to the teams next challenge against England and is hoping for a good game of rugby. “We are hugely grateful for this opportunity and very excited for the match! It is a massive challenge but the team have prepared well so far in camp and no doubt will give everything they have on the pitch”

We caught up with Gareth the Regional Co-ordinator for the Midlands, who works with Aleki delivering the Dallaglio RugbyWorks intervention. “We’ve had a few young people ask where Aleki is this week, so they clearly miss him and have been impressed by the explanation for his absence. If having met one of the Tongan coaches encourages them to tune in to watch the game, that’s a positive influence. Fingers-crossed, they are then further encouraged to engage and participate in sessions.”

When asked about the upcoming fixture against England, Gareth said  “Unfortunately, my playing commitments mean that I won’t get to watch the game live but I’m sure that Aleki and I will find time to analyse and discuss the game. Certainly, if Tonga win I’ll have no escape!

I’m confident that England will win. Tonga will be motivated and they’ll compete upfront, particularly in Aleki’s areas of expertise, contact and scrum time. Tonga’s probably now my second team and, with the gulf in resources etc becoming more and more apparent, I have a huge amount of admiration/appreciation of their effort, commitment and pride in representing their country.”

Tonga will face England this Saturday 6th November in Twickenham at 3:15pm which can be viewed on Amazon Prime Video from 2:30pm.