Kiwi coach Kidwell mellows over Taumalolo affair

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    Time heals all wounds – even those inflicted by rampaging 113-kilogram Tongan forwards.

    New Zealand coach David Kidwell has moved to bury the hatchet with defector Jason Taumalolo, saying he’d be happy to chat with the Mate Ma’a lock after their Rugby League World Cup clash in Hamilton on Saturday.

    Auckland-born Toumalolo sent shockwaves through Kidwell’s camp when he turned his back on the Kiwis on the eve of the competition to link with Tonga.

    Kidwell was initially incensed by the decision but has mellowed since his side’s two dominant pool victories over Samoa and Scotland.

    He says he’d be more than willing to speak with Taumalolo and fellow defectors David Fusitu’a, Manu Ma’u and Sio Siua Taukeiaho post-match.

    “You know, time heals I suppose. Jason’s playing for Tonga and we’ve got guys playing for New Zealand. If the opportunity arises and I get the chance to talk to him, 100 per cent I will,” Kidwell told reporters on Tuesday.

    “We just have to focus on us, our energy, and where that needs to be.”

    Kidwell admitted being impressed by the efforts of Mate Ma’a in their opening two games, sweeping aside Scotland 50-4 and Toa Samoa 32-18.

    His Kiwis would approach the Pool B crunch match in their usual way, without any extra animosity or fire in the belly but would nevertheless remain on high alert for Taumalolo’s indefatigable running game.

    The 24-year-old has made a combined 366 Cup metres with ball-in-hand.

    “It’s about limiting his metres,” Kidwell said.

    “He’s obviously the form forward in the game.

    “We’re nice and relaxed and not tapping into any emotion or anything, just preparing the way we have been for the last three weeks.”

    © AAP 2017