Kiwis coach David Kidwell has accused Jason Taumalolo of a lack of respect after his controversial decision to switch allegiance to Tonga.
Taumalolo - rated the best forward in world rugby league - opted to play for Tonga at the Rugby League World Cup after 10 caps for the Kiwis.
Kidwell told the Brisbane Courier Mail newspaper that Taumalolo's actions still rankled and he said there were no guarantees the North Queensland Cowboys star would play for the Kiwis again.
His comments are sure to add fuel to the fire when the Kiwis face Tonga in Hamilton on November 11.
David Kidwell is not sure whether the Kiwis will take Jason Taumalolo back after he chose to play for Tonga at the World Cup.
"The issue I have is I would have liked Jason to tell me to my face [that he was switching to Tonga]," Kidwell said.
"I can understand why he wanted to play for Tonga and represent his heritage but I just wished he showed me some respect.
"I found out that he wanted to play for Tonga from a third party. He never told me - I still haven't heard from him or spoken to him.
"I'm not going to have any ill-feeling towards Jason but if he explained things to me, I would have at least sat down and said, 'OK, what are your reasons?'.
"I would never step in someone's way of representing another country if that player doesn't feel connected to the New Zealand jumper.
"I have 24 guys in this team now who feel they belong to the Kiwis and will play for the jumper. That's the attitude I want."
The Courier Mail said it was understood some Kiwis players were "bitterly disappointed" with Taumalolo.
Kidwell admitted he still did not know "why he doesn't want to play for us".
"If he has an issue with me, I'm not aware of it. I coached Jason when he was in the Junior Kiwis.
"If there is an issue, I just wanted him to see me and tell me how he was feeling. I'm an open book. I'm not closed. I'd like to think I have a mindset where I listen to people.
It won't be up to me whether Jason plays for New Zealand again. It won't be the selectors either.
"It will be players. I'm trying to shape our culture at the moment and they are the ones driving it."
Kiwis skipper Adam Blair told the Courier Mail that while he was surprised at Taumalolo's decision, he and his teammates were looking ahead to their first World Cup game against Samoa on Saturday.
"Our focus is on the players that want to represent our country. The media keeps bringing it up, but we've put the Taumalolo stuff behind us."
Photo by: BRADLEY KANARIS/ GETTY IMAGES (Caption: Jason Taumalolo - pictured playing his last test for the Kiwis - has been accused by NZ coach David Kidwell of 'a lack of respect')