“Outstanding” says Tongan rugby coach as top players line up for kingdom

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Jason Taumalolo is tackled by Andrew Fifita during the Australia-New Zealand ANZAC match.Source:News Corp Australia

When Tonga and New Zealand clash in Hamilton on November 11, many of the Tongan team will be top grade players who were originally expected to turn out for the Kiwi side.

Tongan coach Kristian Woolf Tonga coach described the situation as “outstanding.”

“We have always spoken about getting the best Tongan players playing for Tonga,” Woolfe said.

The strengthened Mate Ma’a team for the Rugby League World Cup is being credited to North Queensland Cowboys second rower Jason Taumalolo, who persuaded them to play for the kingdom.

Woolfe said he was ecstatic to have nabbed Taumalolo and described it as a major coup for Tonga.

He said Taumalolo  had always wanted to play for Tonga while he was at his best.

Radio New Zealand quoted Taumalolo as saying the new rule on international representation meant he could represent both Tonga and New Zealand throughout his career.

“The World Cup provides developing nations like Tonga an opportunity to play on the big stage and I would like to help them with their campaign.”

Taumalolo is a North Queensland Cowboys second rower, he represented the Mate Ma’a at the 2013 tournament but has since played 10 time for New Zealand, where he was born and raised.

He  also represented Tonga at the 2013 World Cup.

The Sydney Telegraph has listed the players it said were “ready to walk away from the Kiwis and make themselves available for Tonga” as:

Tui Lolohea (Wests Tigers), Solomone Kata (Warriors), Konrad Hurrell (Titans), Manu Vatuvei (Salford), Manu Ma’u (Eels) and David Fusitu’a (Warriors).

It said Sydney Roosters’ Sio Siua Taukeiaho had confirmed he would play for Tonga.

The Telegraph reported that Cronulla’s Andrew Fifita had chosen to join Taumalolo, as had former Australian Test players Michael Jennings of Parramatta and Sydney Roosters winger Daniel Tupou, as well as Canterbury fullback Will Hopoate.

Hopoate, who played five State of origin matches for New South Wales, told the New Zealand Herald this afternoon that it was great for international rugby league for players such as Taumalolo and Fifita commit to Tonga over a tier one nation like Australia.

“It’s obviously great for Tonga, and great for the game,” Hopoate said.

“It’s building the game internationally and I think it will make the World Cup a bit more competitive.”

The main points

  • When Tonga and New Zealand clash in Hamilton on November 11, many of the Tongan team will be top grade players who were originally expected to turn out for the Kiwi side.
  • Tongan coach Kristian Woolf Tonga coach described the situation as “outstanding.”
  • “We have always spoken about getting the best Tongan players playing for Tonga,” Woolfe said.
  • The strengthened Tongan side is being credited to North Queensland Cowboys second rower Jason Taumalolo, who persuaded them to play for the kingdom.

For more information   

Jason Taumalolo and eight eligible Kiwis make secret pact to play for Tonga at RLWC

Sport: Jason Taumalolo snubs NZ for Tonga

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