13 Jul 2018

Sport: Pacific to benefit from international rugby league revamp

9:58 am on 13 July 2018

The NRL is proposing a revamp of the international rugby league calendar over the next four years which looks set to finally reward Pacific Island countries for their growing success.

The proposal includes a new Oceania Cup to be played during next year's representative round and at the end of the season between New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.

Fiji put a bit hit on former Bati international Reagan Campbell-Gillard during the 2017 World Cup semi final.

Fiji have reached the semi finals at three straight World Cups. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Two separate Four Nations tournaments will also be played in 2020, with Australia, New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa to play an Oceania Polynesian competition and England, France, Fiji and Papua New Guinea to feature in a European-based version.

"Until now there has not been enough structure around the international game and the game has missed some real opportunities to showcase rugby league outside of Australia," Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter Beattie said.

"We are presenting a four-year calendar which can be repeated and replicated in future cycles to give the international game more certainty and exposure.

"Those tournaments and events will be book-ended by a World Cup every four years."

Konrad Hurrell celebrates a try for Tonga.

Tonga's Konrad Hurrell scores against Samoa in the 2018 Pacific Test. Photo: Photosport

Mate Ma'a Tonga consolidated fourth place in the Rugby League World Rankings this week, off the back of their Pacific Test victory over Toa Samoa.

The Kingdom famously reached the semi finals at last year's World Cup and coach Kristian Woolf, along with Samoan counterpart Matt Parish, have been outspoken in their desire to see their sides play more tests against the traditional tier one nations Australia, New Zealand and England.

ARLC chairman Peter Beattie said this new proposal, which will be presented to the Rugby League International Federation in Singapore later this month, is a big step towards exactly that.

"A key to this proposal is we are giving emerging nations a chance to become genuine competitors with tier-one nations," he said.

"But we will do it by confining tournaments to fixed windows to ensure the well-being of our players."

Tonga celebrate a try. Kiwis v Tonga, Rugby League World Cup, Hamilton,  2017.

Tonga want more tests against tier one countries. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Talks have also begun for an international nines tournament at the end of the 2019 season.

Meanwhile, the ARLC said negotiations were ongoing for an end-of-year Test between Australia and Tonga in 2018.

- AAP and RNZ