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24 Mar 2018 19:05
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby League

    Easy to pick Australia over Tonga: Kaufusi

    Kiwi-born Felise Kaufusi said it was an easy decision to choose the Kangaroos over Tonga despite turning out for his country of heritage earlier this year.

    - article from

    Kangaroos rookie Felise Kaufusi insists it was an easy decision to choose the green and gold over Tonga for the upcoming Rugby League World Cup.

    New Zealand-born Kaufusi is likely to make his Australia debut after being rewarded for a breakout NRL season with Melbourne with selection in a 24-man squad this week.

    The Storm second-rower had been eyeing a World Cup appearance for months, but only by wearing the same colours he did in a Pacific Test against win over Fiji earlier this year.

    "I would've loved to have played for Tonga as well, to represent my heritage. That's where my mum and dad are from," Kaufusi said in Kangaroos camp.

    "I have played for them before - I played the Test match and it was pretty special. But to get this opportunity, I'm forever grateful. I'll take it with both hands."

    In contrast to NRL stars Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita, both of whom defected from New Zealand and Australia respectively to play for Tonga, Kaufusi is adamant the choice was easy.

    Storm football manager Frank Ponissi announced Kaufusi's selection to the team during their premiership celebrations on Monday, and the 25-year-old didn't think twice about accepting.

    "It was a pretty easy decision to be honest. Like I said, this opportunity doesn't come around very often. I'm just grateful," he said.

    "When my name got announced from Frank, I just knew I always wanted to play for Australia."

    Kaufusi, whose brother Antonio also played Tests for both Tonga and Australia, admitted understanding why some players would spurn a potential pay day to play for Tonga.

    Kiwis David Fusitu'a, Manu Ma'u and Sio Siua Taukeiaho also switched allegiances.

    "It's just the bond. You just had everyone come from the same background and get all the same upbringing from their mum and dad. That's something special you can't take away," Kaufusi said.

    "Everyone gets along, everyone clicks and gets their jokes. It's always going to be a pretty special bond when you group together like that.

    "I think it's really good for Tonga. I think they'll have a pretty strong side this year. Hopefully they can go a long way. You never know, we might even end up playing them."


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