Taumalolo helping Tonga ride out the storm
COWBOYS star Jason Taumalolo has revealed the concerns he harboured worrying about his family's welfare as cyclone Gita ravaged the kingdom last month.
The 24-year-old defected from New Zealand to represent his parent's birthplace in last year's World Cup, and a lot of his extended family live there.
Thankfully everyone emerged unscathed as the category four storm caused widespread damage and destruction.
"The majority of my family, my parent's brothers and sisters are there and they've obviously been affected by it, and everyone in Tonga," Taumalolo said.
"Nothing bad has happened so far, that's the only thing I'm worried about, but the damage there is pretty big.
"I have a pretty big family over there spread all over Tonga, everyone's fine and that's all that matters."
Taumalolo and several of his Tonga teammates are helping with the rebuilding process by organising for basical supplies to be shipped over.
"We're doing our bit, a few of us Tonga players from the World cup are helping to send some supplies over," Taumalolo said.
"There's a few players who have organised some freights to get sent over full of supplies, clothes and what not, every day needs I guess to get them through this tough period of rebuilding.
"There's been damage to their houses and want not, I think the roof of my uncle's house came off when the cyclone hit."
Taumalolo is yet to officially announce whether he will recommit to Tonga or return to the New Zealand set up, although Tongan teammate Konrad Hurrell may have already let the cat out of the bag.
"Jase has already put his hand up to stay with Tonga," Hurrell told The Courier Mail recently.
"It's big. Pretty much every kid in Tonga wants to be Jason Taumalolo. They all want to be Jason and Andrew Fifita."
Last month New Zealand opened up its coaching role to all candidates after David Kidwell oversaw a horror World Cup campaign where they failed to make the semi finals.
Taumalolo and a handful of other Kiwi defectors helped the country make the semi finals for the first time, where they fell just short of springing a huge upset over England.
"I'm not ready to make a call yet but I want to be playing great football here first before I put my hand up for international football," Taumalolo said.
"I guess I'll make my decision maybe halfway through the year and see what I'm going to do.
"I haven't really spoken to anyone there (New Zealand) yet but from what I've heard there's been a bit of movement, obviously with them looking for a new coach.
"New Zealand are just taking it slowly, but they're back in the process of finding a coach the players want to play for. If they get that sorted, you'll see a big culture change there for New Zealand."