Taumalolo to put it in for land of his father
JASON Taumalolo insists he still has plenty left in the tank for his World Cup campaign with Tonga after capping another stellar season for the Cowboys by winning the Paul Bowman Medal.
Taumalolo gave everything during North Queensland's injury-hit campaign, becoming the first NRL forward to pass 5000 running metres for the season to lead his team to the grand final from eighth place.
The 24-year-old was rewarded with the club's Player of the Year honour for the second year running, but the biggest story this week has been his shock international switch.
Rugby league's most damaging forward has lit a fire underneath the upcoming World Cup after turning his back on New Zealand to represent Tonga, where both his parents were born.
Taumalolo has enjoyed a much-deserved break from football as the Cowboys celebrate a tough season, but the 113kg colossus said he won't hold back when he pulls on the Tongan jersey.
"I go into camp next week and I'm looking forward to another chapter in my international career. It should be an exciting World Cup," Taumalolo said.
"Give me a week or two and I should be right. Obviously with a big Mad Monday and the amount of Macca's I've had in the last week probably doesn't help.
"I'll be going into the camp, working my arse off, and hopefully be in great shape come our first game at the World Cup.
"I'm not going there to take the load and try to carry a country. I'm just there to do my job and hopefully there's a few other players who can do that too."
Many have speculated as to Taumalolo's motivation given he played for New Zealand in the Anzac Test, but the man himself said it was just about giving back to his country of heritage.
Sharks prop Andrew Fifita has also pledged his allegiance to Tonga for the World Cup, with coach Kristian Woolf assembling an impressive squad which includes NRL talents Manu Ma'u, David Fusitu'a, and Sio Siua Taukeiaho.
However, Taumalolo said stopped short of saying Tonga can send shockwaves through the tournament, admitting they still need to put it all together on the field.
"I think that question will be answered come World Cup time. Until then, there's a lot of work," Taumalolo said.
"For a few of the players, it'll be the first time in camp with each other so I think we'll need to get to know each other and gel as a team first before any of that (winning the Cup) is possible."