NRL star Jason Taumalolo was all smiles when he landed in Tonga today, seemingly detached from the criticism that has come his way after his decision to snub the Kiwis jersey to play for Mate Ma'a Tonga at the Rugby League World Cup.
Taumalolo, 24, announced earlier this month that he will be representing the small Pacific nation over New Zealand, with other NRL stars following suit.
The former Kiwis forward said he has no problems with his former teammates criticising the timing of his announcement, saying he would like to let his actions do the talking.
"I wish in some way they can take the field soon, but you know I guess I'll have to wait until we come across them on the battlefield. So I'll leave my talking on the field," said Taumalolo.
Kiwis skipper Adam Blair and former Kiwis international half Benji Marshall were among the players who weren't happy with his move.
"I don't pay too much attention to it but obviously I have caused a bit of media stir," said Taumalolo.
"At the end of the day I am here to play for my country and I'm looking forward to doing that in couple of weeks."
Cronulla Sharks star Andrew Fifita turned his back on the Kangaroos opting to play for Tonga.
"I think everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but I think at the end of the day I think I am giving back to my little country," said Taumalolo.
"What the boys do for the country will go a long way helping them in many ways and maybe down the future develop them as a rugby league country."
Parramatta forward Manu Ma'u, Warriors winger Fusitu'a and Roosters prop Sio Siua Taukeiaho also chose Tonga over the Kiwis.
Tonga's first World Cup match is against Scotland on October 29 in Cairns.
Kiwis Nico Porteous and Zoi Sadowski-Synnott faced down history, pressure and expectation and emerged with medals, 1 NEWS reporter Kimberlee Downs writes from PyeongChang.