TONGA head coach Kristian Woolf believes that his captain Jason Taumalolo is currently the best forward in the world.
The 29-year-old led his country to victory over the Cook Islands at Middlesbrough on Sunday in what was his first game of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
The North Queensland Cowboys superstar missed the trial game against France and their opening two group games against Papua New Guinea and Wales after he received a three-match ban while playing for the Cowboys in the NRL at the end of the season.
“For this team he is a massive difference,” said Woolf before the game.
“He is the best forward in the world. If you look over the last ten years, the consistency he has had and the impact he has every week and every year shows he is the best and the most consistent forward in the world.
“Having him in our team and looking him in the eye, he wants to make an impact and I am sure it gives the players confidence as well.”
Woolf was happy with his team’s performance against the Cook Islands after they ran in 16 tries to record a 92-10 victory and advance to the quarter-finals.
“I thought we were outstanding,” Woolf added.
“We had a different intent about us from the start. We have been a little disappointed with our first two performances. We got the wins but we didn’t play to our full potential.
“I said last week I thought we were building. You can feel there is a different intent about training and that’s how we played today. That was a lot more like us and we showed the class and ability that we have.”