Mana Otai

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Mana Otai
Date of birth (1968-09-21) 21 September 1968 (age 46)
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Flanker
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1995 Tonga 5 (5)
Coaching career
Years Club / team
2009–2012
2012-
Auckland RFU
Tonga
Rugby union career

K. Manakaetau F. 'Otai (born 21 September 1968[1]) is coach of the Tonga national team (ʻIkale Tahi (Sea Eagles)). He was educated at St Peter's College, Auckland and played club rugby in Auckland. His playing position was as flanker (No 8).[1] Otai represented Tonga, being capped for the first time on 11 February 1995 against Japan at Nagoya. Otai was the Tongan team captain in the 1995 Rugby World Cup competition,[2] in which he scored a try.[1] Otai was an All Black trialist in 1994.[2]

In September 2012, he was named head coach of the Tonga national team, taking over from Toutai Kefu who was acting head coach for the ʻIkale Tahi at the time.[3] His two-year contract would see Otai thought to the 3 September 2014, and a possible resign is allowed based on his performance until then.

His first match in charge was a 28–23 loss to Italy during Tonga's 2012 European tour. His first win came a week later, a 22–13 win against the United States, which was backed up by a first-ever victory for Tonga over Scotland, running out 21–15 victors. His maiden IRB Pacific Nations Cup, ended with Tonga finishing third with two wins from four; a 27–17 win over Japan and an 18–9 win over the United States. However, Tonga's final game in the 2013 IRB Pacific Nations Cup (a 34–21 loss to Fiji), stared a six consecutive streak without a win. This included a winless 2013 European tour, consisting of a loss on a first-ever meeting against Romania, and back to back losses to Tier 1 nations France and Wales. An 18-all draw against Samoa and another loss to Fiji in the 2014 IRB Pacific Nations Cup saw them finish last in their conference, before Otai finally earned a win - A 36–14 win, in an uncapped match against the Pacific Barbarians.

In August 2014, it was announced that the Tonga Rugby Union would not be resigning his two-year contract, despite it being reported that Otai had been working hard to finalize players that would be available to play for the Tonga on their 2014 European Tour in November, plus the 2015 Rugby World Cup.[4][5] However, on 24 September 2014, following negotiations between the International Rugby Board and the Tonga Rugby Union, it was announced that Mana Otai would remain as head coach for Tonga's 2014 European Tour with another chance to redeem himself on the tour, which included matches against Georgia, United States and Scotland.[6] Ahead of their tour, Mana Otai brought in former South African World Cup Winning Coach, Jake White to his coaching set-up, to act as a technical advisor to Mana.[7]

White and Otai, were able to lead Tonga to 2 from 3 wins during their 2014 European Tour. The tour began with a 23–9 victory over Georgia, which included a late serge off tries during the closing quarter to secure the win. The following week, Tonga kept their 100% win rate in tact against the United States, winning 40–12 in Gloucester. The 'Ikale Tahi were praised heavily for their defensive abilities in their opening two matches of their tour, keeping Georgia tryless completely and the United States tryless in the second half. But Tonga were also praised for their new attacking flair, and with hand in ball, with some people expecting a first ever clean sweep on European tour heading into the final match against Scotland. Despite the first half being a close 14–12 at half time, Scotland ran away with the match in the second half, scoring a further 3 tries to win 37–12. The Tonga Rugby Union were encouraged by the tour, resigning Mana Otai contract to see him through to the end of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Mana 'Otai". Tonga ESPN Scrum. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "More Records for Hastings". The Independent. 31 May 1995. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Mana 'Otai, 'Ikale Tahi's new Head Coach". Matangitonga.to. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  4. ^ TRU Board sack Mana Otai?
  5. ^ Tonga will not renew coach Otai’s contract
  6. ^ Mana is Ikale Tahi coach for Europe Tour
  7. ^ Tonga add Jake White to coaching staff
  8. ^ Contract extensions for two senior TRU staff
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Australia Toutai Kefu
(caretaker)
Tonga National Rugby Union Coach
2012-
Succeeded by