Fifita was named in two successive Australian squads in the lead-up to his backflip which came on the day he was supposed to report for Kangaroos duty.

Fifita had worked tirelessly to get back in the national team after being left out of last year’s Four Nations squad following his public support for his friend and convicted one punch killer Kieran Loveridge, making his decision to defect from the green and gold at the eleventh hour all the more intriguing.

And while Meninga admitted his decision to play for Tonga would not count against him for future selection, the Aussie coach couldn’t help but take a calculated swipe at the prop.   

"He's made a decision with his heart and where his family roots lie so I'm comfortable with his decision," Meninga told

"It's a World Cup year as well which is a bit unique as well.

"I prefer him to go play with Tonga if that's where his heart is because I know that (replacement Reagan) Campbell-Gillard's heart is in the green and gold. He won't let us down."

Meninga said the Panthers hardman would fill the role admirably.

"I'm really excited about getting Campbell-Gillard an opportunity in the green and gold jersey too," he said.

"I thought he was terrific at the back end of the year and it was difficult to leave him out of the team initially so it gives him an opportunity which is fantastic, I'm excited by it and you can see he's excited by being here."