New Mate Ma'a Tonga recruit John Asiata says playing alongside star forward Jason Taumalolo in the red jersey is a huge "honour" after all that Taumalolo has done for his NRL career.
Asiata considers Taumalolo like a brother after his family took him in when he first made the move to Townsville to play for the North Queensland Cowboys.
"Yeah, we are very close," he explained. "I moved up to Townsville in 2014, his mum and dad took me in.
"Pretty much I was like their brother. So it kind of reminded me a bit like home. So, for Jase, he's got one sister and one brother and that was the same as me.
"For me to be there and kind of grow up with them, in the last three years, it has been amazing."
Taumalolo flew to Sydney in April to present Asiata his 100-game milestone jersey before the Cowboys’ NRL match against the Bulldogs.
Taumalolo was injured at the time and was out of action for several weeks due to a knee injury he suffered against the Broncos in March.
"They [Taumalolo's family] treated me like their own son and I treat Jase and his sister like they are my own siblings," Asiata added.
"And when it came to the 100th game, it really showed me how much I really mean to him and his family. To see him there and to present me with that jersey, it was an honour."
Taumalolo and Asiata have both been named to start for Mate Ma'a Tonga in their Test against the Kiwis this Saturday at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland.