16 Oct 2014

Tonga coach says some players regret turning out for All Blacks

9:51 am on 16 October 2014

The Tongan Rugby coach Mana Otai says Pacific Island players based in New Zealand are thinking more about representing their nations of heritage.

The Chiefs prop and former All Black training camp member Ben Tameifuna has committed to representing Tonga and was named in the 31-man squad for next month's European tour.

Tonga rugby coach Mana Otai

Tonga rugby coach Mana Otai Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Otai says he may not be the last to do such a move.

He says players are noticing a worrying trend when it comes to playing for the All Blacks.

Otai says Island players have been used for one Test by the All Blacks and then left aside.

He says Saimone Taumoepeau, who played 3 Tests for New Zealand in 2004 and 2005, is an example, who he says now wishes he was allowed to play for Tonga.

Ben Tameifuna on Chiefs duty

Ben Tameifuna on Chiefs duty Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Tameifuna was this week named in Tonga's 31-man squad for next month's European tour.

The colossal forward was part of the 2012 All Black extended training squad but never played a test. He also played in NZ U20 team which won the Junior World Championship in 2011.

The former World Cup-winning coach Jake White has also been named as technical advisor to the 'Ikale Tahi, who play Georgia, the United States and Scotland next month.

Tameifuna was in hot water last month, suspended for five weeks for pushing referee Glen Jackson during Waikato's ITM Cup match at North Harbour.

Tameifuna seemed destined for an All Blacks call-up when he was called into the 2012 national training camp, but his struggles with weight in the 2012-2013 off-season torpedoed those hopes, with coach Steve Hansen saying he couldn't pick the 23-year-old, because he couldn't last 80 minutes.