As I sit in 30C-plus climes while holidaying in my birthplace of Suva, Fiji, only one thing makes me feel more uncomfortable than the wet-blanket humidity - news on David Kidwell.

It rankles with me - and, no doubt, some fans - that Kidwell is still pining for Jason Taumalolo who has crossed the floor to Tonga as the Kiwis prepare for their kick-off at 8.10pm against Samoa at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, today in their Rugby League World Cup opener.

Does he seriously believe that had the North Queensland Cowboys player broken the news of his defection to Kidwell's face it would have made the coach feel better?

If anything, that Taumalolo has shunned Kidwell since opting to represent his second-tier nation of heritage three weeks ago speaks volumes from the 24-year-old Auckland-born forward.


Protocol aside, quite often it's what isn't uttered that is more pertinent. In Taumalolo's case, the silence is deafening.

More to the point, does Kidwell want to hear it.

My beef is if the Kiwis coach is still accusing Taumalolo of cowardice and warning the lock/second rower faces a player-driven ban from the collective then it's fair to assume the 2008 world champions are in a spot of bother.

It hardly matters that the explosive 2016 Dally M Medal winner left because he doesn't rate Kidwell or is passionate, as most Pacific Islanders tend to be, about his culture.

Andrew Fifita left it unceremoniously late to inform Australia coach Mal Meninga of his defection to Tonga, two days after he was named in the Kangaroos' cup squad, but you don't hear the latter going on about it.

Queensland-born Meninga, whose great-grandfather reportedly hailed from Vanuatu, was in Suva a fortnight ago in the tri-nation pre-season scrimmage with the Fiji Bati and PNG Kumuls. He told fans at the stadium he wanted to see the Kangaroos continue that tradition annually to help island nations improve their lot. His skipper, Cameron Smith, echoed similar sentiments.

Kidwell should be channelling his energy into what his squad of 24 are doing and not what Taumalolo didn't do.

To go on like a broken record about one player smacks of desperation and also rudely undermines the collective prowess of the Kiwis.


Just in case it has slipped Kidwell's mind, other New Zealanders have followed Taumalolo to the red corner - Manu Ma'u, Sio Siua Taukeiaho and David Fusitu'a, to name a few.

It pays to know that respect is a two-way street. Kidwell has to earn it from his players although hats off to him for manning up on a tactical howler as a rookie coach when he left Taumalolo on the bench for 26 minutes of New Zealand's 26-6 loss to Australia in Perth a year ago.

The Kiwis are no different to the islanders in terms of culture and Kidwell knows better in launching his hackneyed campaign of the key (Ki-) is in the "we" (-wi).

News flash - that sense of we is arguably stronger among islanders, especially those with humble upbringing but are based overseas to ply their trade.

That sense of belonging to the tribe often transcends the handshake and hug at the final whistle before lads from both sides toast beers together at post-match functions.

It's the sort of affinity that sees Wallaby fullback Israel Folau, of rugby union fame, forgo a reportedly A$500,000 contract with the Robbie Deans-coached Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan for some quality time with Silver Ferns fiancee Maria Tutaia.

Wallaby midfielder Kurtley Beale adds another dimension as he echoes calls for the historic indigenous jersey to become a mainstay in future tests after beating the All Blacks last Saturday.

I have read and seen accounts here of Fiji Bati players, such as Eloni Vunakece and Ashton Sims, of mixed Aussie parentage, in the past few weeks detail what it means to find purpose in their Fijian roots. Former Roo Jarryd Hayne respectfully takes back seat.

Detractors may argue that's because some of them don't stand a chance of playing for Australia but that would be rich coming from the defending world champions who, akin to the Kiwis, are renowned for snapping up foreign players who often return to their countries of birth or heritage as discards when the stand-down period expires.

It's no secret that coaches dump players - rightly so for indiscipline or simply due to personality clashes - and that often entails an intriguing dog-eat-dog drama within a drama of naming of squads.

No points either for guessing that island nations, who start and end everything with god, tend to be more lenient towards transgressors.

There's nothing sadder in sport than world-class foreign players switching allegiances only to find they are surplus to requirements for whatever reasons.

Fans should not be deprived of pedigree players on the global stage.

For that reason, this World Cup should be the most unpredictable because the semifinalists are anyone's guess apart from the Roos.

The Kiwis, England, Fiji, Tonga, PNG and Samoa have enough NRL presence to cause upsets.

For Kidwell's sake, here's hoping Taumalolo's absence fuels the Kiwis all the way to their second World Cup crown.