After helping put Tonga on the rugby league map, Jason Taumalolo wants to inspire the next generation of players and is planning to visit the island nation to check on the growth of the competition named after him.
Taumalolo was honoured for his role in Tonga's rise at last year's World Cup by the re-naming of the national competition to the Jason Taumalolo Cup, while age competitions have been named after Tui Lolohea, Konrad Hurrell, Solomone Kata and Manu Vatuvei.
Tonga's World Cup success has led to an increase in the number of senior teams from 11 to 38 in one year, while the Test team played Australia for the first time in Auckland on Saturday night and are scheduled to meet New Zealand on June 22 next year.
"I have got my own competition and I would like to go back and see how all the teams are going and see the development side of things there," Taumalolo said.
"With the NRL schedule and pre-season happening it is a bit of a tough schedule but I would like to go back and hopefully I can find some time in the Christmas break to go back and see how rugby league is developing in Tonga."
Taukeiaho praises Mate Ma'a Tonga crowd
The world's No.4 ranked nation lost 34-16 to the Kangaroos at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday but fans took to the streets to celebrate after the Test in Nuku’alofa, as they did in Auckland.
"I love seeing everyone, obviously to support myself and all the boys who are representing Tonga. They are just such proud people," Taumalolo said.
"They still get excited to see myself and other boys when we go back to Tonga. I guess they are just proud that we have come back to represent them."
The support for Mate Ma'a Tonga and the performance of the team at the 2017 World Cup led to calls for more regular games and after playing Samoa and Australia this year a mid-season against the Kiwis has been confirmed, while discussions have begun about playing the Kangaroos again and also the touring British Lions.
Taumalalo believes other Pacific nations, such as Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea, can follow Tonga's lead.
"We are a stepping stone of what can happen in international rugby league, in terms of being more proactive to get more games and obviously having players come back to represent Tonga," he said.
"Other countries can obviously take a bit from us. We were just fortunate we had people working behind the scenes to try and make the game happen.
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"Now that has happened we have got a few more games. Hopefully, international rugby league can grow from that, not just us but other small nations can get more games too.
"Our following has a lot to do with it but I guess rugby league would be better if other small nations could get more games too. It would develop the game of rugby league internationally."