Veteran Kiwi rugby league player Benji Marshall has voiced his opinion on star Jason Taumalolo's decision to play for Tonga instead of New Zealand at this year's Rugby League World Cup, calling the actions "disrespectful to the jersey".
Jason Taumalolo playing for Tonga against Samoa
Marshall told Newstalk ZB's Veitchy on Sport show he is annoyed with the second rower's decision to switch teams so close to the competition.
"I just don't know what part of society has changed that you all of a sudden decide three weeks out from the World Cup you are not playing.
"It's just a bit disrespectful to the jersey when you've been part of the team for a certain amount of time. If you really think that, the decision could have been made seven or eight weeks ago.
"It is an honour to wear the jersey. It doesn't matter what the excuses are, you shouldn't be allowed to to-and-fro and choose, to say I don't want to play this year but I'll play next year."
Marshall said the rule allowing Taumalolo to make the decision in the first place was "bizarre".
"Jason feels like he has the right. If you were in the All Blacks environment you wouldn't dare - I don't know why we feel like we can make these decisions."
Taumalolo announced yesterday he had decided to play for Tonga for the development of the Pacific Island nation and to help their campaign ambitions.
"I really enjoyed my time within the Tongan World Cup Squad last time and have had a long time association with Tongan Coach Kristian Woolf," said Taumalolo.
"I just feel it's time to give back and hopefully I can assist and inspire young Tongan players to chase their NRL goals.
"I see with the new international rule change an opportunity to represent both Tonga and NZ throughout my career, I have and will always be proud to wear the Kiwis Jersey. I just feel the World Cup provides developing nations like Tonga an opportunity to play on the big stage and I would like to help them with their campaign."
Tonga will take on the Kiwis on November 11 at Hamilton's Waikato Stadium.
"The Government has to balance pay demands across the public sector. We have gone as far as we can in terms of extra Government money," Dr Clark said this afternoon.