Jason Taumalolo has committed his foreseeable future to Tonga rather than New Zealand.
The former New Zealand international switched allegiance to play for Tonga ahead of last year’s World Cup along with several others.
Michael Jennings and Andrew Fifita also switched from Australia to Tonga. Manly prop Addin Fonua-Blake is the latest player to switch from the Kiwis to the Mate Ma’a ahead of next week’s Pacific Test against Samoa.
On his decision to commit to Tonga, Taumalolo said: “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.
“Myself along with a number of other players, have 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.
“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.”
Tonga coach Kristian Woolf plans to announce a 19-man squad on Thursday and he revealed that it would comprise of NRL players only due to the cost of flying the likes of Sika Manu and Ben Murdoch-Masila from England.