Fiji planning to break into NRL
GIVE us a crack at the big time.
After a heroic performance without any of their Australian-based stars, a buoyant Fiji is a hatching a bold plan for NRL inclusion within the next 10 years.
Fiji coach Brandon Costin has watched from afar as Toronto Wolfpack has incredibly won promotion into the English Super League after just three seasons.
The NSWRL confirmed on Friday night that a Fijian side - to be known as the Kaiviti Silktails - would be included in next season's Ron Massey Cup with a strong view to promotion into the NSW Canterbury Cup.
Fiji also attracted some heavyweight support from NRL and PM XIII stars Wade Graham and Mitch Moses.
Without star players including Maikai Sivo, Suliasi Vunivalu and Billy Kikau, a Fiji Prime Minister's XIII showed amazing bravery in a 52-10 loss to the Australian PM team, which included Jake Trbojevic, Cody Walker, Clint Gutherson, Mitch Moses, Wade Graham, Tyson Frizell, Ben Hunt and Payne Haas.
Fiji is buoyant about their rugby league.
Asked would Fiji one day become an NRL franchise, Costin said: "Absolutely, I can't see it not happening. This is the biggest populated Pacific nation.
"We have the infrastructure. Give Ron Massey a year and we go into Canterbury Cup, we bring in a women's team, we bring in a Jersey Flegg team, we talking next five, six years.
"By 10 years, how could there not be an NRL side here? There has to be an NRL team eventually in the Pacific Islands, there just has to be.
"I love what the Toronto Wolfpack is doing. There is talk of a New York team. There are a couple of teams looking to come in over in France. The game is looking at expanding - a Fijian team would add so much.
"You look at PNG, Tonga and Samoa but it can only be Fiji. Let's give it 10 years and we can get those sides into those NSW Cup systems. Let's roll the dice.
"An NRL side in a country like Fiji would build the development infrastructure. Entry into Ron Massey is such a boost for rugby league in Fiji. It could only be PNG or Fiji - let's just say it's Fiji."
Fiji has produced some wonderful football players in the past twenty years including Jarryd Hayne, Petero Civoniceva, Lote Tuqiri, Noa Nadruku, Semi Radradra, Tariq Sims, Akuila Uate and Marika Koroibete.
"There's no doubt about the potential over here. The NRL has always had a strong Fijian and Pacific influence," said Graham, the PM XIII skipper. "I only have to go back as far as Petero from my childhood.
"Then you go all the way through to Jarryd Hayne and now with Billy Kikau and Maika Sivo. No doubt if the Fijian Rugby League keeps putting the effort in and developing the grassroots over there, the talent is immense.
"It could take some time but no doubt we will definitely see individuals drip-feed over and, who knows what can happen one day."
Moses was another Fiji fan, saying: "Who knows what the future holds and they definitely have the talent here to compete."