Another voice has joined the controversy generated when Jason Taumalolo turned his back on New Zealand and defected to Tonga for the Rugby World Championship.
That voice belongs to, or at least, is on loan to, Tonga Coach Kristian Woolf. Woolf is obviously delighted to pick up JT; it is hard to imagine otherwise, but Woolf is playing down the speculation that Taumalolo bolted out of anger over the suspension of two players by the Kiwi coach.
Taumalolo was evasive when asked if Kiwi Coach Kidwell’s summary dismissal of two key players had anything to do with his (Taumalolo’s) decision to wear a Tongan jersey, to which he replied, “I’m sorry I can’t answer that.”
“Whether there’s something there between Jason and Kidwell, I don’t know – it’s not something I asked him about,” Woolf told Fairfax Media. “But I did ask him about this link between his decision and [Jesse] Bromwich and [Kevin] Proctor and he actually scoffed at that.”
Bromwich and Proctor were caught on video using a white substance widely assumed to have been cocaine following the Anzac Test. For the record, everyone, regardless of occupation, should go about day-to-day life with the assumptions that every move is being videoed for future consumption.
The list of players that have left their respective national squads to play for Tonga has grown to five, those being Taumalolo, Andrew Fifita, Manu Ma’u David Fusitu’a and Andrew Fifita.
Woolf took the stance that last-minute player defections are nothing new. These things happen to us every single camp, players only letting us know until the night before a team is named that they are in or out,” he said.
Given enough time, Tonga could field an impressive side for the World Championship, impressive enough to seek admittance into the NRL and impressive enough to give Melbourne Storm a run for their money.