Video: 'In a big way I'm proud' - RLWC hero Jason Taumalolo and team decked out in traditional dress for ceremony with Tongan king

Mate Ma'a Tonga star Jason Taumalolo was all smiles as he and his rugby league teammates arrived at the Royal Palace in Tonga today.

The team were presented with special awards by King Tupou VI today at the palace after their sensational dream run at this year's Rugby League World Cup tournament.

Taumalolo spoke to 1 NEWS before the award ceremony and said he was eager to meet the Tongan king.

"Pretty excited," said Taumalolo.

The 24-year-old admitted he was still hurting after his side's RLWC exit but was happy with his team's efforts.

"Disappointed that we lost but in a big way I'm proud of how the boys played and how we brought not only Tongans in Tonga but Tongans everywhere and all over the world together.

"So pretty happy with that."

The Tongan RLWC team were presented special awards from King Tupou VI for their contribution to sports. Source: 1 NEWS

The King invested the players with an award of the Royal Orders at a ceremony held at the Royal Palace today.

The Tongan league team were knocked out of the Rugby League World Cup tournament after their 20-18 semi-final loss to England at Mount Smart Stadium last Saturday.

The Tongan league players were given a huge welcome as they arrived at Fua'amotu International Airport in Tonga. Source: 1 NEWS

Hundreds of fans turned out dressed in red to welcome home their RLWC team. Source: 1 NEWS

Officially it was a protest, but Tonga fans were certainly celebrating they RLWC team’s effort in Auckland. Source: 1 NEWS

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The star forward was all smiles as he and his teammates arrived at the Royal Palace. Source: 1 NEWS

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