Palmerston North-born James Tamou has been surrounded with controversy following his decision to pull on the green and gold in a switch of allegiances leading up to tomorrow’s Anzac test in Auckland.
The Queensland Cowboy forward was offered a position in the Kiwi’s Four Nations train-on squad last year which he accepted saying it would be an honour to wear black and white, but after discussions with the New South Wales State of Origin coach Ricky Stuart and captain Paul Gallen he jumped into a Kangaroo jersey.
Tamou’s mum, Pippa has jumped to his defense “he’s always going to be a Māori and he’s always going to be a New Zealander. But New Zealand should have moved faster. It was a career decision and he’s happy with it. He hadn’t heard anything from the Kiwis [when Stuart called this year]. He had to make a decision.”
James Tamou will debut in his first international test match against an avenging Kiwi side tomorrow at Eden Park. His decision to turn his back on the Kiwis has further fuelled a passionate trans-Tasman rugby league rivalry. The adopted Australian’s team players have leapt to Tamou’s defense “Any team you play in, you always protect your teammates and this team’s no different,” states Australian prop David Shillington. ”We expect there’s going to be some hostility (towards Tamou) – everyone’s been talking about it.”
Kiwi captain Benji Marshall has publicly shown his stand on Tamou’s decision saying ‘”I can’t speak for anyone else, but for myself definitely, you’re obviously representing yourself, your family and your whole country who’s always behind you. So it’s a very passionate position for myself…but hey, if that’s where his heart is and that’s where he wants to play, we don’t want him to play for us. If he doesn’t want to be part of our New Zealand team, good luck to him.”
Tamou’s change of loyalty and the resulting hostility from the public may just provide the fire the Kiwi team need this year to finally win a test match which they have been unsuccessful at since 1998.