Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
With the NRL talking of expansion, why not bring in a Pacific Island Team made up from those five countries?
After seeing how successful the NZ Warriors playing style is, and enjoyable to watch, surely everyone would love to see this happen.
Watching the Samoan League team play Auckland Maori side in the pre match game to the Kiwis vs. Kangaroos, the whole crowd was enjoying the entertainment of the Samoans. The Samoans recorded a thrilling 32 - 20 victory after letting in some soft tries at the end.
The brand of football they were playing was highly enjoyable to watch, and with the NRL more concerned about money then International Football, surely this will be a winner in Australia and the Pacific teams?
The main question would be could they compete with the high standards of NRL? The answer is a big yes!!! When you look back at the players that played for these five countries in the 2000 World Cup, you would think they were made up of no-name players, now looking at some of them who have developed and still playing today are:
Willie Mason Tevita Vaikona Richard Villisanti Willie Manu
Adrian Lam Marcus Bai
Monty Betham Henry Fa'afili Joe Gulavao Jamaal Loloesi Francis Meli Laloa Milford Fred Petersen Frank Puletua Jerry Seu Seu David Solomona
And yes they have been developed in the NRL by there respective teams, but imagine watching a team of this calibre playing the likes of the Roosters or the Broncos.
Sadly due to the lack of Internationals for these countries they have, most of them have gone on to play for the Kiwis or the Kangaroos. With exception to Adrian Lam and Marcus Bai, many of these players are the entertainers of the NRL today.
So having a Pacific team in the NRL would be a win win situation for Rugby League, still making the money to keep it going, and International League is growing.
The best thing ever to happen to Rugby League in New Zealand was the inclusion of the Auckland Warriors into the then called ARL in 1995. Yes they struggled at first, but now we are seeing the benefits of the inclusion of this team. If New Zealand didn't have the Warriors, what would have happen to the likes of Stacey Jones? More than likely he would of gone to Rugby, same with Ali Lauiti'iti . He was playing first fifteen rugby until he was discovered.
Just think how much talent there is running around in these pacific countries? Most of who will be sucked into playing Rugby unless Rugby League stands up for itself.
Even if a Pacific Rugby League Cup was bought back to even maybe include Japan or Singapore, just to maintain interest and provide Internationals for these teams that are struggling the most for financial aid to keep afloat.
It's good to see that the game is developing fast in the Northern Hemispere, and loads of Internationals being played, But lets not forget about the Pacific were it's a "Gold Mine" for Rugby League talent and the only real threat to Rugby League is only Rugby, instead of Soccer, Rugby and Cricket.
With the likes of Kiwi coach Daniel Anderson calling out for pre Internationals before next years highly anticipated Tri-Series, this is where the pacific should stand up and put a team together to play them in there own back yard.
It is also great to inform all International Rugby League fans that the Greek Rugby League has planned a tour in February 2004 to New Caledonia. Even though Rugby League is not played in Greece, a similar strategy was adopted by Lebanon with an Australian lead Lebanese team playing matches in Australia. They also played in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup in England, and as direct result of this have seen the creation of a Lebanese Rugby League competition in Lebanon, with 4 clubs playing. This is also the direction the GRL are trying to follow.