Manly winger Jorge Taufua says he decided to switch his international allegience to honour his mother’s Samoan heritage.
The 26-year-old has a Tongan dad and Samoan mother and previously represented Mate Ma’a Tonga, with his last test being the Rugby League World Cup qualifying win over the Cook Islands in 2015.
He was ruled out of World Cup consideration last year after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament tear midway through the NRL season.
Taufua said he reached out to Toa Samoa coaching staff a few weeks ago to make it clear he was keen to play for them in the Pacific Test.
“I was brought up by my mum my whole life and she raised me and I felt more Samoan growing up than anything but I still had a bit of a touch of the Tongan side of family,” he said.
“So playing for Tonga the last few years was definitely a great experience and they did some great things last year in the World Cup too so I thought it was time to do the second part of one of my goals and that was to represent my mum and my Samoan heritage so thankfully I got the call-up to be here today.”
As fate would have it, Taufua will make his Toa Samoa debut against his ex Tongan teammates on Saturday night, in the Polynesian Cup clash at Campbelltown Stadium.
A few of his friends originally messaged him thinking his inclusion in the Samoan squad was a mistake while he held off from spilling the beans to his mum until Sunday night, he said.
“Automatically when I got home (in the) afternoon she was like, ‘are you going to play for Tonga?’, and I said ‘nah, maybe not this year’,” he recalled.
“I waited a few hours and then I told her, ‘nah, I’m not playing for Tonga. I’m going to play for you this time, play for Samoa.’ She kind of just paused and got emotional and I kissed her and hugged her and just said it’s about that time I did something I always thought about doing.”
With family ties in both camps, Jorge Taufua said it was not a decision he took lightly.
“It’s not easier but the decision to go from New Zealand to Tonga or from Australia to Samoa or New Zealand to Samoa, that decision is a bit lighter than what I had to kind of figure out within myself,” he said.
“It was a tough conversation to have with the Tongan coach (Kristian Woolf) a few nights ago, just to give him a heads up in respect to them and the faith and everything that they’ve provided for me in my time with them and to the Tongan boys as well so I’m sure they understand and (I’m) looking forward to running into them on Saturday.”