International rugby franchises see the value of Pacific nations in lifting the standard of the sport through the display of stylish rugby skills possessed by Pacific Islanders.
This is according to former New Zealand rugby league star, Sione Faumuina, who is in Samoa as part of the first Samoa Business Network business trip where he facilitated in a session on “Entrepreneurial mindset” as a keynote speaker.
Sione made the statement as he highlighted the increasing number of Pacific Islanders involved in the National Rugby League (N.R.L.) and rugby teams in New Zealand and Australia.
“Samoa, Fiji and Tonga’s involvement in rugby is only going to get bigger,” Sione said.
“If we look at rugby league, Fiji is entering a team in the second tier competition, and then if we look at Mate Ma’a Tonga what they have done and regarded as a tier one nation in rugby league.
“So the N.R.L. has 50 percent Maori and Pacific Island representation. In Australia, I think 35 percent and it’s increasing.”
Sione said talk of having a Pacific Islands rugby team is possible, but there are many factors that need to be considered.
“If forming a Pacific Islands rugby team was to go ahead, it’ll be awesome but I think when you look at stuff like logistics, financials, who would run it, who would be the chairman, and once all that gets sorted, it can definitely happen, I think that’s not too far away, if the Super Rugby is looking at expanding.
“The N.R.L. has already gone ahead and got in Tonga and given there are some really good Tests next year already, so they are starting to see the value of Pacific nations to compete against the top teams.”
On his experience as a rugby league player, Sione advises young aspiring rugby players to make the most of the opportunity they get, should they achieve their dream.
“The advice I’ll give is if they get there, to really make the most of that opportunity, not only with the money they make but also with themselves. Use that to give back, and do what you can while you’re there and see yourself out. Before you know it, it’s all over.”