Turn­coat Jason’s mo­tives ‘pure’

Sunday News - - LEAGUE - MARVIN FRANCE

TONGA coach Kris­tian Woolf ad­mits Jason Tau­malolo could have han­dled his de­ci­sion to walk away from the Ki­wis bet­ter, but is adamant his rea­sons for do­ing so are gen­uine.

Tau­malolo, widely re­garded as the best for­ward in the game, left the Ki­wis’ World Cup plans in dis­ar­ray af­ter con­firm­ing his switch to Tonga two days be­fore New Zealand coach David Kid­well an­nounced his 24-man squad on Thurs­day.

Roost­ers for­ward Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Eels back-rower Manu Ma’u and War­riors cen­tre David Fusitu’a all fol­lowed suit, leav­ing Ki­wis se­lec­tors scram­bling to fill the squad less than an hour be­fore it was named.

The play­ers have been slammed for the tim­ing of their de­ci­sions, with Kid­well re­veal­ing Tau­malolo has not re­sponded to his nu­mer­ous at­tempts to con­tact him.

While the Cow­boys star has said the move is all about giv­ing back to Tonga, Aus­tralian me­dia have sug­gested that he was not happy with the World Cup sus­pen­sions handed down to Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proc­tor for break­ing team pro­to­col at the An­zac test.

How­ever, Woolf, who has had a long as­so­ci­a­tion with the 24-yearold, says he was told di­rectly by Tau­malolo that was not the case.

‘‘One thing I do know is that Jason’s mo­tives are one hun­dred per­cent pure,’’ Woolf told Stuff.

‘‘There are no un­der­rid­ing feel­ings against the coach or how play­ers were treated like that at all. I have spo­ken to him about that.

‘‘Whether he ac­tu­ally spoke to him [Kid­well] I’m not sure. If that is the case then that is some­thing I think Jason should do and some­thing that he should have han­dled bet­ter.

‘‘Ob­vi­ously I was in­volved with all the other con­ver­sa­tions with the other guys who made the same de­ci­sions, but they rang me to tell me they were play­ing for Tonga. The next part of the con­ver­sa­tion was around mak­ing sure they do the right thing and mak­ing sure that you no­tify ei­ther New Zealand or Aus­tralia and you’ve spo­ken to peo­ple there.’’

Woolf and Tau­malolo both live in Townsville and their re­la­tion­ship goes back to when the 10-test Kiwi first ar­rived in North Queens­land from Auck­land in his teens.

Tau­malolo played un­der Woolf in the Cow­boys un­der-20s and they re­mained in reg­u­lar con­tact.

But Woolf says the per­cep­tion that he twisted Tau­malolo’s arm to leave New Zealand could not be fur­ther from the truth.

All the play­ers who de­fected - An­drew Fi­fita with­drew from the Kan­ga­roos two days af­ter be­ing named in the squad - have played

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