AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 25: Jason Taumalolo of Tonga leads the Sipi Tau for the crowd after losing the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Semi Final match between Tonga and England at Mt Smart Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

I take the same route home from work everyday. Drive past the same houses, the same parks, through the same roundabouts. After a while, it all just blends into the background.

But something was different Sunday morning. The houses nearby are unremarkable, nothing really stands out. But as I was just a few streets away from home, I saw something different.

This ancient, cozy little brick house, their grass as long as Parramatta’s premiership drought, had added a new item to the front of their house. A Tongan flag.

It stood at the top of its pole, rippling through the air. I returned home, and when I drove past the same home a few hours later, it had changed again.

There was now three Tongan flags flying in their front yard.

It wasn’t just an acknowledgement to their heritage, this was to display their pride. They can thank Jason Taumalolo for that.

Just 12 hours before those flags were first hoisted, Tonga had reaffirmed themselves as one of rugby league’s strongest international outfits.

Defeating rivals Samoa 38-22 in front of a packed Campbelltown Stadium, Tonga made a statement to the world – we demand to face the Kangaroos, we deserve to be tested against the best.

It would be one of the highest billed clashes of the year, the power and passion of Tonga up against the precision of Australia. And following all of the Kangaroos’ recent retirements, the Pacific Islanders stand as more than a fighting chance.

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But without Jason Taumalolo, this would have never been a reality.

The Dally M winning lock forward made the decision on the eve of the World Cup to abandon the Kiwis, one of the competition favourites, and pledged allegiance to Tonga, rank outsiders at the time.

Days later Andrew Fifita rang Mal Meninga to inform him that he’d be jumping ship to Tonga as well.

The likes of Fifita and Taumalolo, alongside Michael Jennings, Siliva Havili, Daniel Tupou and more had all featured for a top tier nation at some point of their career. But now they’re focused on helping Tonga become one of the top tier nations.

In this world, there are two types of people – leaders, and followers. And without Taumalolo taking that first stand, who knows if the rest of big names would’ve done the same.

It’s a big step up for the Cowboys lock, who’d been slugged with the phrase ‘immature’ ever since he was caught throwing eggs at cars just a few years ago. But to make a step up and become the Tongan’s spiritual leader on the park and off it shows the maturity of the man.

With every Taumalolo hit up, with every Jennings try, every Fifita tackle, there’s another Tongan standing on a porch somewhere, hoisting the flag. The pride is restored in that red and white jersey, now it’s time to show the rugby league world what they’re capable of.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I can’t wait until they play the Kangaroos, I think the Tongans will have their asses handed to them. All this talk that they are a tier 1 nation is rubbish. Lets look at the facts.
    They beat a New Zealand side who also lost to Fiji during the World Cup, and England only a few days ago. Kiwi’s are rebuilding and during the world cup they had a terrible attitude problem. Any average side could have beaten them. Tonga then lost to England in the semi final. England dominated Tonga right until the last 9 minutes, in which they lost concentration and let Tonga run 3 tries in. Regardless, Tonga still lost. Then Tonga beat an average Samoan side over the weekend.
    There’s nothing special about this Tongan team. They had one win over New Zealand, something which Fiji also accomplished but no one is carrying on about them. If and when they play the Kangaroo’s, they’ll get smashed. Sorry Tongan fans, but that’s the truth.

    • 😂 😂 😂 Don’t hate… Appreciate titan2012…MMT (the core group, fifita, taumalolo, ma’u, taukeiaho & co) have only played 7 games together. With more games given to MMT they will develop into a Force to be reckoned. Tonga has no doubt the strongest FORWARD PACK on the planet!!! If you disagree? Name me one stronger… Fifita, Taumalolo, Fonua-blake, Taukeiaho, Pangai Junior, Ofahengaue, Ma’u, Murdoch-Masila, Manu, Havili, Katoa… No pack not even Australia can match this pack in terms of BRUTE STRENGTH… MMT beat the kiwis first & softened them up for fiji hence why fiji won… The damage was already done. The kiwi pack got destroyed by Taumalolo & co. To the England game we had 2 try scoring opportunities in the first half & 2nd half (length of field jennings try, tupou dropped ball with line in sight) if those were taken the dynamics of that game wouldve been in Tonga’s favour plus fifta’s last min effort going upstairs lol… At the end of the day titan2012 take a chill pill cause you might have got smashed up by some tongans hence the anger. Mark my words this tongan team will shake the international scene up. So don’t hate on the tongans mate be happy cause when MMT beat Australia I’ll come looking for you 😂 🤣 🤣 🤣 #MMT #HORSEFORCE 💪 🐴 🇹🇴

      • Klemmer, RCG, Kaufusi, Cordner, McGuire, Napa, Trbojevic, De Belin, Trbojevic + the don’t just have BRUTE STRENGTH but footballing smarts and big game experience. Also, how can you have Murdoch- Masila (doesn’t even play NRL) and Havili (who is a hooker) on that list. I don’t think that even with more game time Tonga could ever beat Australia…
        Munster, Maloney, Tedesco, Holmes, Inglis, there is just too much class, too much strength and too much smarts in this Australian team (who mind you are in a slump ATM) could be beaten by Tonga

  2. Interesting mate. You seemed confused. You say Tonga will never beat Australia then at the end of your comment you say Tonga may beat Australia? These forwards you’ve named will get run over from this Tongan pack… Remember my last comment if you had read it properly? Is about a forward pack that can match this tongan pack. That is why reading in school is important. Ben Murdoch-Masila is included in this pack because he is part of this forward pack. If you had watched Tonga’s games closely in the worldcup Ben was running through & around NRL forwards lol Siliva Havili is a hooker which is part of the forward pack. Read my comment again so you understand what your reading. Again, this current Tongan Pack right now will run through those names you’ve put up. All the players in this Tongan Forward pack all play first grade & against those names youve mentioned every week? You talk footballing smarts? Tonga is the only team in the world who have players fifita, jennings, hopoate, tupou play for nsw & the kangaroos, joe Ofahengaue – queensland, plus players who have played for the kiwis – taumalolo, ma’u, fusitu’a, kata, havili, fonua-blake, lolohea. You gotta be a “smart footballer” to make these teams mate & the field also. If the players you’ve named find it hard to stop taumalolo by himself for the cowboys or fifita on his own for cronulla? Taukeiaho on his own for roosters? Fonua-blake on his own for Manly, Tevita Pangai Jnr & Joe Ofahengaue for broncos? Peni Terepo for eels, junior tatola for souths… When the STALLIONS combine… get outta the way! Tonga is guaranteed “front foot ball” with this pack & our halves ata hingano (raiders), tui lolohea (tigers), Dan Tupou (roosters), David Fusitu’a (warriors), Robert Jennings (souths) Michael Jennings (eels) Will Hopoate (bulldogs), Konrad Hurrell (Titans), Moses Suli (Manly), Solomone kata (warriors) is nothing short of “individual brilliance”… Pace & Horsepower… Sorry mate for the longone but excitement grips knowing in a couple of months MMT will eventually play Australia… & then we will see 😂 😂 🤣 🤣 💪 💪 🇹🇴 🇹🇴 🇹🇴

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