The Kiwis rugby league world cup campaign has been dealt a major blow with North Queensland superstar, Jason Taumalolo, choosing to play for Tonga, the Daily Telegraph is reporting.
Taumalolo has made 10 appearances for the Kiwis but played for Tonga in the 2013 World Cup.
The 24-year-old lock has been a standout performer for the North Queensland Cowboys in his previous two seasons in the NRL.
Last year he was named the Dally M Medallist and ran more than 5000 metres this season on his way to last weekend's Grand Final where they fell short against the Melbourne Storm.
The Daily Telegraph said Taumalolo's decision was based around his disappointment that Kiwis coach David Kidwell sacked champion Melbourne prop Jesse Bromwich and Gold Coast forward Kevin Proctor from the team for disciplinary issues stemming from this year's Anzac Test in Canberra.
Taumalolo's withdrawal has rocked the Kiwis' preparation following news last week that Kieran Foran had also withdrawn from the tournament to work on his injury recovery.
New Zealand play Tonga on November 11 at Hamilton's Waikato Stadium, pitting Taumalolo against his former Kiwi teammates.