Sonatane Takulua is backing fellow Tongan Opeti Fonua to be a hit at Newcastle Falcons after catching the eye on his debut.
The former Leicester back-rower played a quarter of Friday’s 26-21 victory at Edinburgh, helping to create a try with his very first touch after being brought on at the midway stage.
Takulua, who started the game at scrum-half, said: “Opeti is an awesome player, and did exactly what I knew he could do.
“With his first touch he took the ball from the scrum base, ran over two defenders and got his offload away to help set up a try. We had actually called a scrum move at that time but he just gave me a look which said ‘no, I’m going to carry it hard at this fly-half’ before he did exactly that.
“There was no need for him to say anything, I have known him long enough to know what that look means, and my thought at that moment was ‘go for it mate, we know what you’re capable of’. The move ended with Zach Kibirige scoring a great try in the other corner, and that kind of play is what we are about.”
The Murrayfield triumph completed an unbeaten pre-season as the Falcons prepare for Friday’s Aviva Premiership opener at home to Sale Sharks, Takulua saying: “One of our main goals for pre-season was to come away with all four wins, so it is nice to have achieved that.
“It means we are really building for the Sale game on Friday night and everyone seems happy with where we are going as a team, even though we have a lot to work on.
“We had a really good start and created a lot of opportunities and pressure inside the first 20 minutes.
“In the later parts of the first half we lost our structure a bit but we ended it with a try, then came out strongly for the second half. We got back into our shape, and that was when things really started to happen for us.
“When we stuck to the plan our set-piece worked well. Everyone knows their role, and at the times we did it we looked fantastic.”
Tickets for Friday’s Premiership opener with Sale Sharks (kick-off 8pm) are available by calling 0871 226 6060 or by clicking here.