Tonga captain Jason Taumalolo says he has full respect for his Pasifika brothers who pledged their commitment to Samoa for the forthcoming World Cup.
A number of NRL stars have pledged their commitment to their nations of heritage for this year’s World Cup rather than representing the likes of Australia and New Zealand.
State of Origin representatives such as Jarome Luai, Stephen Crichton, Brian To’o and Josh Papali’i have committed to representing their Samoan heritage at the tournament.
Tonga have enjoyed an incredible rise on the international scene in recent years, having beaten the likes of Australia and Great Britain.
And with Samoa naming a star-studded squad for the World Cup, Taumalolo says he has never but respect for his Pacific neighbours; and has backed them to follow in Tonga’s footsteps.
“To see a lot of players turn their back on Australia and New Zealand just so they can do the same, it’s not only great for them but it’s great for the game too,” Taumalolo told Love Rugby League.
“I love the brothers on the other side of the ocean. It’s good to see them make the decision to represent their heritage.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing their first game against England. It’ll show where they are as a team and I’m sure it’ll be a great game to watch too.”
Jason Taumalolo on his love for Tonga
The North Queensland Cowboys star has won 14 caps for Tonga. He will play in his third World Cup representing his beloved island this autumn.
“I relish every opportunity I get to represent Tonga,” Taumalolo said. “This is my third World Cup playing for Tonga. Hopefully I can get one or two more in the bag.
“I enjoy coming over to this side of the world to play football. To be able to come here and do what I love for a living is good. I love it here.
“As much as I love playing for Tonga, it does get a little bit overwhelming, in a good sense. For us, having faith and being able to represent the King and the royal family in Tonga means a lot. For us, it might be something we love doing as a game but for a lot of people it means more than that. It is getting to represent families and people that have gone before us. I’m truly grateful to represent everyone.”
Tonga are in a group with Papua New Guinea, Wales and the Cook Islands at the World Cup.