A new domestic rugby competition kicks off in Samoa today with the Super 9 replacing the old National Provincial Championship.
Seven franchises from Upolu and two from Savaii will go head to head over the next 11 weeks with $WST 70,000 or over $US28,000 in prize money up for grabs.
The new franchise based competition was formed after a review by the Samoa Rugby Union found the old NPC lacked quality, depth and resources, with most of the best players migrating from outer unions to play in Apia.
There was also little interest from fans and sponsors and disciplinary issues due to Village/Provincial rivalries.
As a result the 18 sub-unions have been merged to form nine new franchise teams, aimed at lifting the standard of competition closer to what 's seen in top tier rugby nations.
It's hoped the new set-up will provide a more meaningful pathway for local players to break into national teams like the Manu Samoa 7s and 15s.
A total prize pool of $WST 70,000 is up for grabs with a further $WST 160,000 or more than $US 64,000 provided to assist teams with transport and funding their senior and Under 20s squads.
A "Game of the Week" would also be televised live with franchises to compete in a nine-week round robin followed by two weeks of finals.
The action kicks off this afternoon with the Eels versus the Knights, Vikings taking on the Eagles, Legends against the Chiefs and the Southern Tornadoes pitted against the Navigators.