Taumalolo admits fault on Kiwis snub

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    Jason Taumalolo admits he could’ve handled his Rugby League World Cup defection from New Zealand to Tonga much better, but insists the continued Kiwis exile of Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor wasn’t a contributing factor.

    In his typical wrecking ball fashion, the Auckland-born lock made 163 running metres for Tonga as they defeated the Kiwis 28-22 on Saturday.

    Considered the world’s finest forward, 24-year-old Taumalolo incensed Kiwi league fans last month when he chose to represent Tonga at the Cup.

    At the time, Taumalolo insisted he did so to honour his family and grow the game in Tonga, but reports also suggested he was upset by the demotion of Bromwich and Proctor for their part in a drugs scandal after May’s Anzac Test defeat to Australia.

    The pair were allegedly seen snorting cocaine in Canberra.

    Taumalolo denied those allegations after Saturday’s Test in Hamilton, saying he felt no ill will towards coach David Kidwell or any of his former Kiwis teammates.

    He said he has spoken to Kidwell after fulltime and apologised for the tardiness of his defection, explaining that time passed quickly after his run to the NRL grand final.

    Taumalolo – following David Fusitu’a, Manu Ma’u and Sio Siua Taukeiaho – gave Kidwell just 48 hours’ notice of his wish to play for Tonga.

    “Obviously the timing of it was a bit late but I didn’t want to distract my preparation leading into finals footy for the Cowboys,” Taumalolo said.

    “Thought it was a great time to make my decision then and there – just have to bite that bullet with everyone saying what they said, that won’t bother me.

    “I was totally behind Kidwell’s decision (on Bromwich and Proctor) – I don’t take drugs, I don’t condone it either. I stand by his decision.”

    Having finished first in Pool B, the Kristian Woolf-coached Mate Ma’a are now all but certain to avoid Cup favourites Australia until the final.

    They’ll play their quarter final in Christchurch next week.

    “The main part for me wasn’t that I made it personal, but it was a pretty emotional game for myself, playing against the country I was born in – big games, tha

    © AAP 2017