20 Sep 2019

Sport: Mate Ma'a Tonga's Taumalolo threatens to retire at 26

1:30 pm on 20 September 2019

Star forward Jason Taumalolo has hinted he could retire from international rugby league at the age of 26 if a dispute between Tonga's players and the national board can't be resolved.

A group of Mate Ma'a Tonga players threatened to boycott the upcoming World Cup Nines and the October tests against Great Britain and Australia unless board chair George Koloamatangi and secretary William Edwards were removed.

Sika Manu, Will Hopoate and Jason Taumalolo during the Tonga national anthem prior to kickoff against the Kangaroos.

Sika Manu, Will Hopoate and Jason Taumalolo during the Tonga national anthem prior to kickoff against the Kangaroos. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Despite the apparent split, efforts to ease the tensions are ongoing, led by the former New Zealand and Tonga captain Duanne Mann, who the Tonga National Rugby League (TNRL) hired as Football Director.

Taumalolo is eligible to return to the ranks of his birth country of New Zealand - for whom he played 10 Tests before switching allegiances back to Tonga before the 2017 World Cup. But the powerhouse lock told NRL.COM that wasn't an option.

"I'm sticking solid with the red and white and if that doesn't work I guess I might have to retire [from] international football," he said.

"Hopefully it doesn't come to that... I'd still love to play for Tonga and play alongside some of the great players that have represented in the last few years.

Mate Ma'a Tonga Head Coach Kristian Woolf.

Mate Ma'a Tonga Head Coach Kristian Woolf. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"But if that doesn't work out and we can't come to an agreement, I'll eventually retire from international football," said Taumalolo, who has now also played 10 tests for Tonga.

The North Queensland Cowboys player said he was still training and doing his best to stay fit in case the situation improved.

The popular Kristian Woolf was sacked as Tonga's coach this month and replaced by Frank Endacott.

However, Taumalolo is optimistic Woolf can regain the role.

"What he's done for our country and to help build the roster we have now and have the backing and belief of the players that have been turning out for the red and white the last few years has been truly amazing," Taumalolo said.

The TNRL board was replaced this year by order of Tonga's Supreme Court, amid concerns surrounding the body's finances.

The court said "substantial funds" had not been accounted for.

The new board issued a statement that over $US342,000 was spent from an Australian-based account for the 2017/18 financial years without any report.

Jason Taumalolo among the fans.

Jason Taumalolo among the fans. Photo: RNZ / Laura Tupou