16 Apr 2013

Sport: Securing Taumalolo a coup for Tonga rugby league

10:42 am on 16 April 2013

Tonga pulled off a recruitment coup by naming North Queensland Cowboys second-rower Jason Taumalolo in their squad to face Samoa in Sydney this weekend.

The 19 year old Junior Kiwis rep was the subject of a tug-of-war last season, with officials from both New Zealand and Australia attempting to secure his services.

He was named as a reserve in the Kiwis squad for the 2012 ANZAC Test against Australia, but was not selected to play.

Mate Ma'a coach Charles Tonga says that means he's free to play for the Kingdom this weekend, even if his international options are still up for grabs.

"Because he didn't get to play last year he's still safe - still got the election up his sleeve. He can play for Tonga in this test match but if the Kiwis want him they can take him as it's one election. Also it's awesome for the Kiwis to allow these some of these players to come back and play for us as well. Obviously you can't play everyone in the World Cup and Australia and New Zealand have got a lot of talent so to let these guys come back is great for the nation - both nations - and the Pacific."