22 November, 2017, 12:00 am
SYDNEY – Jason Taumalolo is leading Tonga on a giant-killing run towards a Rugby League World Cup final but with more success comes the realisation he may have made a $10 million mistake.
Tonga is into the semis after defeating a resilient Lebanon 24-22 on Saturday, a victory that came a week after creating history by becoming the first ever tier two side to defeat a tier one nation when it upset New Zealand 28-22 in Hamilton.
All eyes were on Taumalolo in that clash after he snubbed New Zealand and pledged his allegiance to Tonga in a move that rocked the rugby league community.
It’s paid dividends for the North Queensland big bopper and the Pacific Islanders — they’re through to the final four while Fiji knocked the Kiwis out in their quarter-final on Saturday.
“Give Taumalolo the Golden Boot (for the best player in the world) now,” NRL great Matthew Johns said on the Triple M Grill Team on Monday.
“He got the Dally M Medal 12 months ago but he was better this year.
“I’ve never seen a bloke who’s not a playmaker have such an impact on a football team.
“This bloke’s just leading the way through brute force.”
But Taumalolo’s incredible form — which helped the Cowboys make the NRL grand final against all odds this year — is emphasising he may have been too hasty in signing a $10 million, 10-year deal with the North Queensland club earlier this year.