Civoniceva confident rugby league will ‘explode’ in Fiji

Former Australia and Fiji international forward Petero Civoniceva is optimistic that a Fijian team in the New South Wales Cup competition next year can help create a new hotbed of rugby league.

New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) officials David Trodden, Barrie-Jon Mather and Bob Millward were in Fiji over the weekend, on a trip to meet with local authorities and assess Fiji‘s readiness to host a team.

Plans are afoot for the team to host games at Suva’s ANZ Stadium, which has a capacity of 20,000.

“The growth of rugby league will explode,” Civoniceva said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“It’s just going through the roof in terms of the numbers of players registering at schools to play.

“It’s all on the back of the amazing exposure rugby league gets on free-to-air TV here.

“If we have a team of local players, playing against Intrust Super Cup players week in and week out, the growth of rugby league here will go through the roof.

“When we’re talking about the game internationally, it will be an amazing step forward for Fiji.

“We won’t have any trouble unearthing the next Semi Radradra, Marika Koroibete or Lote Tuqiri. [Laughing] or maybe even another Petero.

“Obviously it’s in our blood, whatever code it is to see the way rugby league has grown in the country is very exciting and people in Australia at all levels understand the strength and power of the Fijian player and that’s why everyone is closely looking at this.

“Fijians love the toughness, speed and athleticism of rugby league,” he said. “You go to any village on a Friday or Saturday night and you’ve got the NRL on all the TVs.

“Everyone we have spoken to in the country, from the government to the tourism ministers, are extremely excited about the potential for the Sydney teams coming to Fiji.”

NSWRL official David Trodden feels that a team in Fiji is important for rugby league’s longterm development in the Pacific.

“We’ve worked through a lot of the detail with them and we’re now in a position where the next step in the process is to inspect all of their facilities, hosting arrangements and travel accommodation to ensure they are up to standard,” he said.

“If we can tick all that off, we’re another step down the track to having a Fiji team in the competition in the 2017 season.

“It’s very important for the game as a whole. The ARLC have acknowledged the importance with the recent work they did with their pathways project, in which they envisaged a Fijian team in the competition.”

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