Kid­well, ad­mits Tau­malolo

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apol­o­gised about how things went and he was pretty good to talk to and he said how happy he was for me to rep­re­sent my coun­try of her­itage and said good luck and that was about it.”

The Auck­land-born de­stroyer also dis­pelled ru­mours he had aban­doned the Ki­wis in protest of Kid­well’s de­ci­sion to ban Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proc­tor, af­ter they were caught us­ing co­caine fol­low­ing New Zealand’s An­zac test de­feat to Aus­tralia in Can­berra.

“I’m to­tally be­hind Kiddy’s de­ci­sion,” he said. “I don’t take drugs and I don’t con­done it ei­ther so I stand by his de­ci­sion.”

He came un­der fire again in the lead-up to yes­ter­day’s match af­ter re­fus­ing to speak to lo­cal me­dia over the last fort­night since Tonga ar­rived in Auck­land two weeks ago.

“I knew there’d be a lot said on pa­per and a lot of peo­ple talk­ing and I didn’t want that to get in the way of my preparation.

“I took it as an­other game of footy, that’s all it was to me.

“Nothing’s per­sonal to me. For those who know me I like to take ev­ery­thing as one big joke so I didn’t look as much into this game as ev­ery­one else did, think­ing it would be a big grudge match.” While both sides did their best to hose down sug­ges­tions of lin­ger­ing ten­sions over the last week, Tau­malolo sur­prised the ca­pac­ity crowd pre-game when he led the Ton­gan side’s ren­di­tion of their Sipi Tau war cry.

It set the tone for a fierce open­ing to the match, af­ter Blair led the Ki­wis’ haka as they ad­vanced over half­way to con­front the op­po­si­tion.

“It wasn’t my de­ci­sion. A few of the lead­er­ship group thought what bet­ter way for me to play my coun­try of birth than to lead the Sipi Tau.

“I was a bit ner­vous at the time but its an op­por­tu­nity I’ll prob­a­bly never get again.”

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Ja­son Tau­malolo ad­mits he has re­grets about his move.

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