AAP Rugby

Cowboy Asiata explains shock Samoan switch

By AAP Newswire

Predictably, John Asiata's decision to change his international rugby league allegiance from Samoa to Tonga has lured the internet trolls out from under their bridge.

What they don't know about the softly-spoken North Queensland Cowboy is how much he agonised over the decision and just what donning the red and white will mean to him next week.

"It's part of my mum's side of my family," Asiata told AAP.

"I've always known about my Tongan heritage since I was a kid but I grew up more around my father's side so I didn't know much about it (his mother's family)."

Thanks to his father, Asiata represented Samoa twice, making his debut in an 18-6 win over his mother's Tonga in 2016.

But there was a niggling feeling the back-rower turned five-eighth only knew half his story.

Then in 2017 he saw North Queensland teammate Jason Taumalolo sensationally switch his allegiance from New Zealand to Tonga.

He watched on as the shock switch sparked a wave of passion that swept the Tongans into the semi-finals of the World Cup.

Even back then Taumalolo tried to convince Asiata to join him.

"He's always known about my Tongan Heritage but I was never confident," Asiata said.

"I wanted to know more about my culture and heritage so I went and did my research and met more of my family and I've done that."

Family bonds forged, there was only one more man Asiata needed to speak to.

"I had to get the respect of my Dad," he added.

"He gave me that and everyone on my Dad's side are behind my decision. They said they will support me, they just want me to make them all proud."

The keyboard warriors will have their say but when Asiata runs out in red next Saturday he won't just be playing for the nation on his chest; but rather the two nations in his heart.