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Former Toa Samoa player John Asiata had to get dad's permission to play for Mate Ma'a Tonga

After being selected to play for Mate Ma'a Tonga, former Toa Samoa player John Asiata had to get the permission from his Samoan father first on, whether he was allowed to represent his mother's Tongan heritage.

The Cowboys utility has been selected to start in the halves alongside former Warriors back Tuimoala Lolohea for Tonga in their Test against the Kiwis this Saturday at Mount Smart Stadium.

"I had to get the respect from my dad, my dad is the full Samoan and for him to give me this blessing to come and represent mum's Tongan side… I was speechless," said Asiata.

"Dad is a very strong Samoan and for him to say yes, it's an honour and big respect to him that he wants me to represent both sides of the family."

The 26-year-old said there were a lot of close friends and NRL players that had no idea about his Tongan heritage.

"Not many people knew about it besides my family. And it's a culture and heritage that I really wanted to get to know more.

"And to do that I had to do my own little research and get connected with a lot of my family too."

The 104kg half said he has been doing what he can to learn more about his Tongan roots.

"In the last three to four years I have been doing that and I have been connected to a lot of the family back home in Tonga and here in New Zealand," Asiata told 1 NEWS.

"I met a lot of them [Tongan family] on fan day and I just can't wait to represent my family and where they come from.

"I met a couple of the Afeaki's here [in Auckland] at the fan day, so they come around and we sat down last night [Monday night] and kind of went through the family tree and everything.

"Which is very interesting, some of us thought that the generations were far apart but it is actually really close."

Asiata played two Tests for Toa Samoa from 2016-2017. He made his debut for the Cowboys in May 2014 against the Melbourne Storm and has played a total of 107 first grade games in the NRL.

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The Cowboys utility said he was grateful that his Samoan father gave him the nod to represent his mum's Tongan heritage. Source: 1 NEWS