Editorial: Time is right for a
Pacific side

Selwyn Pearson has raised a excellent point about the upcoming Tri-Nations tournament, which many groups have looked over recently, what about the fans of Australia and New Zealand who like to go out to international Rugby League matches? Whilst crowds may not be huge for League test matches, the last few in Sydney alone have drawn crowds of over 30,000 which is larger than most NRL games, showing there is a market there.

Now whilst the prospect of an ANZAC test between Australia and New Zealand is being juggled around without much support from the NZRL, and with pretty good reason too, it is important that both organisations realise that now is the time for the formation of a Pacific Islands side.

Similar to how the International Cricket Council realised the only way the Caribbean could compete in the Test arena was to form a West Indies side, it is time for the RLIF, ARL and NZRL to take the initiative. The only reason a Pacific Islands side has never competed before on the international stage in League is because of player insurance, clubs invest large amounts into developing these players and of course want to ensure their investment is protected, we all remember how Stacey Jones? arm injury in 1999 unfortunately killed off the chance for the likes of Tonga, Fiji and Samoa to take on the major nations outside of the World Cup.

Now of course if the ARL and NZRL have to pay for the players to play against their national teams, it will eat into the revenue from the test matches, but if they don?t pay for it, that revenue no longer exists at all. Test Matches in League do make profits, and give players a chance to represent their nations, something I?m sure they would like the chance to do in front of their home crowds.

League test matches also rate well in the media, and the prospect of the Kangaroos and Kiwis taking on an unknown entity would be quite a refreshing watch.

There is no reason why a match between Australia and the Pacific Islanders couldn?t draw 35,000+ at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, or 20,000+ across in New Zealand, in fact the NZRL if they wanted to be truly ambitious could play their Kiwis against the Pacific side for a three test series during the same time the Australian?s are playing their State of Origin. A Wednesday night test match maybe a bit risky, but if the promotion was right, it could still draw crowds.