• Taumalolo Must Return to Kiwi Fold for Internationals to Remain Relevant

    With the imminent announcement of Michael Maguire as the successor to David Kidwell, the pundits are already weighing in on what Maguire will require if he is to be successful, and then retire.

    We sports journos are aspiring poets all.

    Former Test star Tony Kemp says the proposition for Maguire is simple, with two things sure-fire.

    Kemp put forth the propositions that Maguire will need the right staff around him, which seems obvious, as no man is an island, but he will also need a way to get Jason Taumalolo back away from Tonga and back in black.

    The Kiwis fared poorly in last year’s World Cup campaign, losing out to Fiji in the quarter-finals. To avoid that fate, Maguire needs an overhaul of the back office and its team management structure.

    “We saw David Kidwell left out in the lurch,” Kemp said to the AAP. “You had a high performance department that wasn’t working and a CEO (Alex Hayton) that lacked leadership.If they think they can fix this problem by just hiring a coach, they’ve got rocks in their head.”

    In the topsy-turvy world of international rugby, Taumalolo bolted from New Zealand to join Tonga, one of several high-profile ruggers to veer from the beaten path. Rugby is not soccer, so Taumalolo was not eligible for Tonga because his mother’s first boyfriend once sailed into a convenience store in Nuku’alofa for a pack of Manchesters. Even though Taumalolo was born in Auckland to parents Tominika and Vaai, who are natives of Tonga.

    Kemp says that if the All Blacks can lure him back, some of the others who chose to play for the Pacific island nations would do likewise. “Michael’s (Maguire’s) first task is to connect with the players and, more importantly, to connect with the players that we’ve lost,” he said.

    “Jason’s decision in particular had a definite ripple effect through the junior grades.If those players stay away, the question becomes whether we remain a tier one team or whether we get sucked into the tier two position on the international criteria.”