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Emotional weekend ahead for Ma'afu

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Campese Ma’afu is preparing for an emotional weekend in the Pacific Nations Cup.

Ma'afu withdrew from training with Fiji before the country faced Scotland last month following the death of his father, Tu’afana, and the prop says that he will have added motivation to put in a good performance.

“I will be playing without my dad up in the stands supporting me,” Ma’afu told the Fiji Times. "He passed away and unfortunately I had to return home before the Scotland game to lay him to rest.

"Those things happen in life and it's a tough one for me as I will be looking into the grandstand like I always do just knowing he is not with us any more — and the only consolation is knowing he has a better view and is watching the game from up above.”

Tu’afana was born in Tonga and Ma’afu is relishing the prospect of potentially coming up against four cousins, something which will add to the poignancy of the occasion.

"My dad never missed any encounter against Tonga,” he added.

"He had always supported Tonga, but once I started playing for Fiji, he crossed over and started supporting Fiji."

Fiji are travelling to Tonga for the first time since 2009, with the hosts fresh from beating Samoa in the opening match of this year’s Pacific Nations Cup.

Rugby World Cup qualification is also on the line, and Ma'afu says that Fiji, who beat Scotland and Italy recently, will be ready for the challenge, commenting: "I think the way we started our preparation and the way we finished our past two games, we have come a long way.

"We are mentally and emotionally up for the challenge."