'I just feel it's time to give back' - Jason Taumalolo reveals why he's chosen Tonga over Kiwis

NRL star forward Jason Taumalolo has opened up about his decision to play for Tonga instead of the Kiwis at this year's Rugby League World Cup.

Taumalolo released a statement today saying he chose 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.

PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 20:  Jason Taumalolo of Tonga is tackled during the International Test Match between Tonga and Samoa at Centrebet Stadium on April 20, 2013 in Penrith, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)
Jason Taumalolo playing for Tonga against Samoa Source: Getty

"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."

The Kiwis will also be without Melbourne Storm forward Tohu Harris and Bulldogs bound playmaker Kieran Foran, who have withdrawn from the tournament due to injury.

Tonga will take on the Kiwis on November 11 at Hamilton's Waikato Stadium.


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Former Warriors hardman Motu Tony wants to restore 'Kiwis family feel' to team after taking new role at NZRL

Rugby league's administration is full of former players looking to give back in some way, but it's fair to say only few deserve to be there as much as Motu Tony.

Having helped transform one of the UK's powerhouse clubs, he's now looking to do the same as the high performance manager behind the Kiwis.

After an illustrious 11-year career, Tony took on some serious advice from former team manager Sir Peter Lietch in 2012.

"I remember the Mad Butcher saying to me, ‘you're not Stacey Jones,' so I knew that quite early [in my career] I wasn't the most talented player."

An embarrassed Sir Peter admits he doesn’t quite remember dishing out the harsh dose of reality but knows what he meant by saying it.

"I would've only said that to help him because some guys are going to have a big career in football and some aren't."

Remembering the Mad Butcher's advice, the 13-Test Kiwi ended his career in the UK and started a bachelor's degree.

Just months into study, he returned to his former English club Hull as the youngest ever senior sports administrator in the game.

"I was told that I was the only Pacific islander in senior sports administration," Tony said.

"I know it's flattering for me but it’s something I’m keen to sort of change."

The best recruiters make a name taking risks.

Last year, the 37-year-old packed up his family of seven to take a role as interim CEO of Baseball New Zealand before joining the NZR as their general manager for high performance.

His first task - getting the Kiwis to restore pride against the Kangaroos next month.

"When you have the Junior Kiwis, the Kiwi Ferns and the Kiwis all playing on the one day, one venue, it promotes the Kiwi family feel again.

"That's something we haven't had in our sport for a very long time."

Tony will bring all his experiences as a player and sports administrator to the organisation. Source: 1 NEWS | Sky


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Jason Taumalolo, Andrew Fifita headline strong Mate Ma'a Tonga squad for Kangaroos Test

Mate Ma’a Tonga’s head coach Kristian Woolf has named a strong 29-man squad to take on the Kangaroos in a historic Test match in Auckland next month.

NRL powerhouses Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita headline a squad full of talent and stars.

The New Zealand Warriors have four players in the squad - wing David Fusitu’a, centre Solomone Kata and forwards Agnatius Paasi and Leviaha Pulu.

"We are very pleased with the depth in the squad we have managed to name for this very important Test match," said Woolf.

"We feel it is representative of the depth of Tongan rugby league in both the NRL and English Super League and also rewards players that have made firm commitments to playing for their country of heritage.

"This will be a huge occasion for Tonga to take on the top-ranked rugby league country in the world, so we need every player we can committed to the goal."

The Test will be played at Mount Smart Stadium on October 20.

Mate Ma'a Tonga squad:

Andrew Fifita (Cronulla Sharks), Addin Fonua-Blake (Manly Sea Eagles), Mahe Fonua (Wests Tigers), Moeaki Fotuaika (Gold Coast Titans), David Fusitu’a (NZ Warriors), Siliva Havili (Canberra Raiders), Ata Hingano (Canberra Raiders), Will Hopoate (Canterbury Bulldogs), Konrad Hurrell (Gold Coast Titans), Michael Jennings (Parramatta Eels), Robert Jennings (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Solomone Kata (NZ Warriors), Sione Katoa (Penrith Panthers), Samisoni Langi (Catalans Dragons), Tuimoala Lolohea (Wests Tigers), Sika Manu (Hull FC), Sam Moa (Catalans Dragons), Ben Murdoch-Masilla (Warrington Wolves), Joe Ofahengaue (Brisbane Broncos), Tevita Pangai Junior (Brisbane Broncos), Agnatius Paasi (NZ Warriors), Leviaha Pulu (NZ Warriors), Scott Sorenson (Cronulla Sharks), Ukuma Ta’ai (Huddersfield Giants), Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys), Tevita Tatola (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Sio Siua Taukeiaho (Sydney Roosters), Peni Terepo (Parramatta Eels), Daniel Tupou (Sydney Roosters).

Jason Taumalolo leads the Tongan haka.
England v Tonga, Semi-Final, Rugby League World Cup 2017. RLWC2017. Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland New Zealand. Saturday 25 November 2017 © Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
Jason Taumalolo has committed to Mate Ma'a Tonga. Source: Photosport


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'They will be pumped to get one on their coach' - Warriors women to face Broncos mentor

If Brisbane star Teuila Fotu-Moala comes off second best with the Warriors' Onjeurlina Leiataua in Friday's NRL Women's Premiership clash, she will only have herself to blame.

Feared Kiwi Ferns back-rower Fotu-Moala has revealed she used to be the coach of her Warriors rival at hometown Auckland club Otahuhu Leopards, helping her cut her teeth in the sport.

In fact the bulk of the Warriors squad played under Fotu-Moala at the Leopards.

Now they line up against their mentor in the NRL Women's Premiership last round, with a grand final spot on the line for Brisbane.

"I have actually coached her (Leiataua) at club level. The bulk of those (Warriors) girls I have coached at clubland so I know how they play," Fotu-Moala said.

"When it comes to next level footy I don't know what they are like, but I am sure they will be pumped to get one on their coach."

Fotu-Moala has plenty of close friends at the Warriors after forging strong friendships with her Leopards charges.

But she had no problem using her inside knowledge against her ex-pupils, as the Broncos eye off a spot in the inaugural grand final.

Teuila Fotu-Moala on attack. Kiwi Ferns v England, Women’s Rugby League World Cup Semi Final at Southern Cross Group Stadium, Sydney, Australia on 26 November 2017. Copyright Image: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz
Teuila Fotu-Moala on attack for the Kiwi Ferns against England. Source: Photosport

Brisbane are the competition's only unbeaten team, and can guarantee a grand final appearance with a third straight victory in Melbourne on Friday.

"I know from what I have learnt from my coaching what gets in her head," Fotu- Moala said of Leiataua.

"Whatever I know I will use it on the field."

Fotu-Moala is on a collision course with explosive Warriors back-rower Leiataua at AAMI Park, with Kiwi Ferns jumpers also on the line ahead of October's Auckland Test against the Jillaroos.

"I am pretty excited to come up against some of my best friends," Fotu-Moala said of the Warriors (1-1 record).

Onjeurlina Leiataua on attack. Roosters v Warriors, NRL Holden Women's Premiership.  ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia. 8th Sept 2018. Copyright Photo: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz
Warriors women player Onjeurlina Leiataua on attack against the Sydney Roosters. Source: Photosport


'I just want to protect my family' - Sam Burgess hopeful NRL finalises investigation into sexting scandal soon

An emotional Sam Burgess thanked his wife, family and club for their support during the NRL's investigation into a sexting scandal, suggesting the truth will come out before South Sydney's preliminary final on Saturday.

Burgess addressed reporters on Tuesday, speaking publicly for the first time about allegations lewd images were sent to a young woman from one of his social media accounts earlier this year.

The Englishman refused to discuss specifics, reiterating throughout the 12-minute press conference he is "happy for the truth to come out" but unable to comment publicly because the league's integrity unit is still probing the matter.

Burgess expects the NRL will finalise its investigation within 24-48 hours.

The 29-year-old possess some of the broadest shoulders in the league but it was clear on Tuesday the allegations, made public on the eve of the Rabbitohs' semi- final against St George Illawarra, have taken some toll.

Burgess struggled to speak at the start of Tuesday's interview then became deeply emotional when discussing his heavily-pregnant wife Phoebe.

"I just want to protect my family in this whole thing," Burgess said.

"I just want them to be safe and happy and with my current situation at home (photographers and TV cameras camped outside), there's no chance of that.

"I'm not angry. What hurts me the most is seeing my wife upset about what's out there.

"I've been in situations before, dealt with much harder things in my life ... and football has always been great for me.

"My poor family, they don't have the distraction I do. I will be fine come game time."

The league is in the final stages of its investigation.

Burgess could yet be suspended but Souths' talismanic forward, who won the Clive Churchill medal in their 2014 grand-final victory, is very much preparing to play the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium.

"There's a lot of important things going on at the moment. I've got some serious football games in front of me, this process we're going through," he said.

"It's been a tough process to go through ... as someone said earlier, a bit of a circus.

"Fortunately I've got a strong wife.

"My teammates have been fantastic. We all have challenges at times. We get through them, we grow. It's brought us together.

"I'm grateful that two of my brothers are in the team ... I've got plenty of support around me."

Asked about the timing of the story about the incident in May, Burgess replied "you can make your own assumptions".

Burgess insisted he wasn't "running away and hiding from what's out there" but had to respect the integrity unit's process.

"I'm not going to put myself into a position that's going to get me into trouble," he said.

Burgess hopes the issue will be solved in the next two days. Source: 9 NEWS Sydney


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