PANTHER PRIDE | A big win for the mountain men tonight has them firmly entrenched in the top eight, ...
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England play Tonga at 3pm at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday 29th October, in the second round of the Federation Shield.
While Harlequins club captain Rob Purdham made an outstanding debut as captain of his country in last Sunday's win over France, he now has an equally difficult task at the Stoop for his next mission - lining-up against two Quins RL teammates.
Purdham goes head-to-head against blockbusting prop forward and Tonga captain Solomon Haumono and centre Tyrone Smith.
Tonga?s victory over Samoa was actually worth double because the fixture also counted towards the 2008 World Cup Qualifying competition?s Pacific Group. It was the last game in the Pacific Group and Tonga?s victory saw them come from third to first and, together with Fiji, qualify for the 2008 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
England head coach Paul Cullen who coached Purdham many years ago at Whitehaven is impressed by Rob?s maturity: ?He won?t be put off because he?s facing two of his own club mates. He?s too good a professional for that but it will be a challenge for him.?
Sunday?s meeting at the Twickenham Stoop brings together the top two nations in the Federation Shield table.
Cullen may also an England debut to Salford winger David Hodgson, who scored two tries in a Great Britain tour match against a Newcastle Invitational XIII last weekend. However Ben Westwood is being given another week before being called up, and fellow returnee Mickey Higham will be given a break from further representative duty.
Five members of the Tonga team that defeated Samoa played in a tour match against a Cumbrian regional team last night, with Fuifui Moimoi, Feleti Mateo and Richard Fa'aoso being identified by Cullen as dangermen for this weekend.