England have defeated Tonga in the first of their three test matches against the Pacific Island nation, with Shaun Wane’s men running out as 22-18 victors at a very boggy Totally Wicked Stadium.
Despite the sun making a rare October appearance during the game, it was a pitch that had been battered by days of heavy rainfall and as such it was testing conditions to play in, something that Tongan head coach Kristian Woolf attributed as a key reason for his side’s poor second half performance.
Woolf explained to the BBC: “Obviously it’s a different field as well, it’s a bit heavier than what we get in Australia and I thought that showed at times during the game and a few of our blokes were looking a bit heavy legged.
“They just couldn’t get their momentum and their footing that they need for such big men. We know that Huddersfield is a good track so it’ll be a bit stronger under the feet and I think that’s going to suit us.”
Those comments were echoed by Jon Wilkin who went even further when commenting on the state of the pitch at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
“It is a good track at Huddersfield, listen this has been like a cow field today. The Tongan guys aren’t used to that but we’ve got two more tests to look forward to,” Wilkin commented in regard to the pitch he used to call home.
Former Leeds Rhinos legend and England captain Jamie Peacock agreed with Woolf’s assessment of the playing conditions.
“For this Tongan side or for touring sides, it’s getting used to the English conditions. He’s nailed that.
“They’ve had their hit out this week and he expects them to be a lot better next week. I expect they will be as well, I think they’ll be a lot more direct with the ball.”
“It is a good track at Huddersfield, listen this has been like a cow field today. The Tongan guys aren’t used to that but we’ve got two more tests to look forward to.”
It was also revealed that sideline pundit Robbie Hunter-Paul had been forced into wearing his spiked golf shoes to deal with the poor underfoot conditions.