13 Oct 2017

Taumalolo won't bite over defection to Tonga

12:21 pm on 13 October 2017

The National Rugby League player Jason Taumalolo is refusing to bite back at criticism of his World Cup defection from New Zealand to Tonga.

The Kiwis captain Adam Blair and former captain Benji Marshall have taken a swipe at the North Queensland Cowboys lock since his decision, saying he'd betrayed the black-and-white jumper.

Taumalolo says he chose Tonga to help develop the game there.

He arrived in Nuku'alofa on Thursday for a pre-Cup visit, he gave short shrift to the likes of Blair and Marshall.

Jason Taumalolo was key to North Queensland reaching the NRL grand final.

Jason Taumalolo playing for the North Queensland Cowboys in the NRL grand final. Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2017 www.photosport.nz

"Obviously I've caused a bit of media stir and all that, but at the end of the day, I'm here to play for my country and I'm looking forward to doing that," Taumalolo told TVNZ.

"Everyone's entitled to their own opinion.

"Everyone's entitled to say what they want, but at the end of the day it doesn't bother me -- I tend to leave all the talking on the field.

"I wish in some way we could take the field soon, but I guess I'll have to wait until we come across them on the battlefield."

Taumalolo -- whose arrival in the Tongan capital was delayed by 24 hours due to an overloaded flight -- said he was doing his parents proud by playing for Tonga.

Other players including Manu Ma'u, David Fusitu'a and Sio Siua Taukeiaho, have also elected to represent Tonga rather than the Kiwis, making them a credible World Cup contender.

Tonga's World Cup opener is against Scotland in Cairns on October 29, before matches against Samoa and New Zealand in Hamilton.