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Auto Poster Jason Taumalolo to stick with Tonga ahead of Kiwis for June rugby league test window

Discussion in 'News' started by Stuff News Articles, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. Stuff News Articles

    Stuff News Articles Auto Poster

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    Jason Taumalolo to stick with Tonga ahead of Kiwis for June rugby league test window



    Last updated 20:56, June 13 2018

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    NRL star Jason Taumalolo has again chosen to play for Tonga over the Kiwis in 2018.


    Former Kiwi Jason Taumalolo has pledged his continued international allegiance to Tonga.

    The North Queensland Cowboys star sparked a controversy when he defected from the Kiwis to play for Tonga at last year's Rugby League World Cup.

    Taumalolo confirmed on the Cowboys' website on Wednesday that he would be available for Tonga for the Pacific Test against Samoa in Sydney on June 23.

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    Jason Taumalolo says the support for Tonga inspired him to recommit for the Pacific test.


    "The World Cup last year, I'd never been a part of something like that before, it was a really special experience," Taumalolo said.

    READ MORE:
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    "The following we had and the amount of support we had was overwhelming and it made our journey in the World Cup that much more special.

    "To share it with a group of boys who obviously sacrificed a lot to be a part of that group, I find it really hard to describe how proud I am of them all.

    "I wanted to experience that feeling again this June test and I can't wait to get out there wearing that Tongan jersey again."

    The NRL.com website reported that New Zealand Rugby League officials had been told Taumalolo would not be available for the Kiwis' test against England on Denver on the same night as the Pacific Test.

    Taumalolo said he and "a number of other players", had "recommitted to Tonga again because we are passionate about our heritage and we also want to help make international rugby league stronger and the best way for us to do that is by making Tonga a competitive team internationally".

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    "I hope the governing bodies of the game also follow suit by making sure Tonga and other tier-two nations have the opportunity to play regular meaningful games against tier one nations."

    Sharks prop Andrew Fifita has also opted to stay with Tonga, passing up a chance of NSW State of Origin selection.

    In-form Warriors wing David Fusitu'a will also stick with the Mate Ma'a and Manly frontrower Addin Fonua-Blake has defected from the Kiwis after representing New Zealand at the World Cup.

    Tonga coach Kristian Woolf will name his 19-man squad on Thursday.

    He told NRL.com that only NRL players would be named due to the cost of bringing back skipper Sika Manu (Hull FC) and Ben Murdoch-Masila (Warrington) from England's Super League for a one-off game.

    A new captain will be named for the Samoa match.

    "Sika has been the captain for a long time and that doesn't need to change just because he is not involved in this test," Woolf said.

    "Will Hopoate was captain in this game last year and there are a number of guys who I think have leadership potential like Peni Terepo, Konrad Hurrell and Andrew [Fifita] have certainly grown into a leader."

    - Stuff

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