New Zealand's World Cup campaign is in tatters after the world's best forward, North Queensland superstar Jason Taumalolo, withdrew from their team today.
The heavyweight lock forward has chosen to play for Tonga instead - the country he represented at the 2013 World Cup - in a wonderful boost to their hopes of making the final.
The Daily Telegraph understands Taumalolo's decision was based around his disappointment that Kiwis coach David Kidwell had sacked champion Melbourne prop Jesse Bromwich and Gold Coast forward Kevin Proctor from the team for disciplinary issues stemming from this year's Anzac Test in Canberra.
Taumalolo's withdrawal has rocked the Kiwis' preparation following news today that Melbourne premiership winner Tohu Harris will miss the tournament due to injury, following confirmation last week that Kieran Foran had also withdrawn from the tournament to focus recovering from an injury-riddled season.
New Zealand play Tonga on November 11 at Hamilton's Waikato Stadium, which will pit Taumalolo against his former Kiwi teammates.
The 2016 Dally M Medallist has been unstoppable for the Cowboys this year, running more than 5000m this season.
More to come.
- The Daily Telegraph