Taumalolo’s big hint on international future
TONGAN wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo says he'll make a decision on his international future "sooner rather than later".
He knows he will have to choose a side before the Pacific Tests in June.
Tonga will take on Samoa as part of a Pacific double-header at Campbelltown Stadium on June 23.
Taumalolo sensationally turned his back on New Zealand prior to the 2017 World Cup to pledge his allegiance to Tonga.
Along with fellow defector Andrew Fifita, Taumalolo helped lead Tonga to a World Cup semi final and breathed new life into the game in the island country.
But so far he's refused to confirm whether his future lies with Tonga or with New Zealand, whom he has represented 10 times.
The Kiwis next play a Test against Australia towards the end of the year, and then go on a tour of the UK.
"I think we'll find out soon," Taumalolo said of his international future.
"We've got the Pacific Test halfway through the year so I'm sure I will make my mind up sooner rather than later."
A sticking point for the giant lock would no doubt be the money.
Tongan players receive considerably less pay per game than those representing a tier one nation such as New Zealand.
Tonga coach Kristian Woolf has been leading the charge for pay parity in international rugby league, and the issue was a cloud over the recent World Cup.
Taumalolo is adamant international players should all be on a similar pay scale.
"Some of the tier two nations have done well at the World Cup, they've definitely improved and it's becoming a bit tighter on the international stage," he said.
"As long as we get a more consistent base of games playing every year, and a bit of money too, I guess will help entice more boys to play for their heritage country, it will be good."
Last month it was revealed Australia could play Tonga in a landmark international match in Hawaii at the end of this year.
If the game was to be confirmed, it could well entice Taumalolo to commit to the Mate Ma'a
"I think it would be a great idea, taking a game over there and expanding the game a bit in other countries," Taumalolo said.
"What better way to do it than to take a game over to Hawaii? I'm all for that idea, and if it happens hopefully I'll be a part of it."