Jason Taumalolo's decision to turn his back on the Kiwis and represent Tonga at this year's World Cup will forever change international rugby league, according former Test player Tony Kemp.
Widely held as one of the best players in the world, Taumalolo dropped a bombshell an hour before New Zealand's World Cup squad was announced, opting to play for the nation of his heritage, rather than that of his birth.
Speaking to TVNZ 1's Te Karere, Kemp said that the decision will now always be regarded as a turning point for rugby league, both in New Zealand and in the Pacific.
"What will happen with the decision this year, and the World Cup, will make every kid aspiring to play for New Zealand now look at playing for their other country of origin," he said.
"That's fine, but to get a decent Kiwi team, you have to work hard at it ."
"You can't just expect to pick him - like they found out - an hour out and expect him to play. If you are going to lose the players, at least be in the fight."