Fiji RL questions PNG's auto World
Cup entry

The Fiji National Rugby League Bati coach Shane Morris believes Papua New Guinea should not receive direct entry to the 2008 world cup, which will be held in Australasia.

PNG, which is rated above Fiji in the rugby league world rankings, is likely to get a direct entry in the ten-nation competition.

Morris said the Fiji Bati is capable of beating the PNG Kumuls.

"There are talks of direct entry for some nations and PNG is one of them," Morris said.

"I don't feel that PNG should get a direct entry. We can beat PNG. Both Samoa and Tonga can do the same. I will be talking with the Rugby League International officials."

World champions Australia, New Zealand, England, France and Papua New Guinea are expected to receive direct entry.

The other nations will have to play in the qualifying rounds.

The 2008 world cup will be the sport's first since the failed event in the United Kingdom in 2000 which had 16 countries. Details of which teams will have to qualify will be finalised next year.

Morris said Fiji will face Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands in the playoff. He said two nations will qualify for the world cup while the third place team will have to play against the bottom placed European nation.

In its recent meeting the Rugby League International Federation set up rules regarding the make-up of each country's squad to avoid a repeat of the situation in 2000 when Lebanon fielded a team comprised entirely of Australia-based players.

The new rules require every squad to contain at least six players who have either played in the relevant domestic competition for at least one year, or who have played in one of that nation's junior international teams in the 18 months prior to the tournament.

Meanwhile, New Zealand are expected to host three of the pool matches in the 2006 Tri-Nations series between Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain.