Rugby League legend Petero Civoniceva is on the verge of landing a Fiji-based team in the New South Wales Cup as he bids to grow the game in the country.
Civoniceva has wanted a Fiji-based team in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW (New South Wales Cup) for three years now and only needs the endorsement of the Fiji National Rugby League.
He has already got the endorsement of the NRL, NSWRL, Fiji Sports Council and the Minister for Industry and Trade and Tourism, Faiyaz Koya.
If the FNRL endorses the bid, a Fijian team will compete in the NSW Cup, the second-tier in Australia, by 2019.
And the Fiji-based team will base itself on a similar structure to the PNG Hunters, having 30 full-time players from March to September.
The players will live in a professional training facility, which will include accommodation and food as part of their contracts.
The club’s staff will consist of a full-time head coach, strength and conditioning coach, trainers and physios.
Civoniceva has reiterated that Fiji will play 13 home games and 13 away games.
On the Fijian side, Civoniceva said: “The Fiji Intrust Super Premiership NSW team will be a wonderful platform for our locally based Fijian boys to play in Australia’s next best comp below the NRL.
“The reality of the wonderful achievements of the Fiji Bati in the Rugby League World Cup are that almost the entire playing squad has been developed in Australia from junior rugby league thru to senior football.
“How do we increase the development of our local players? We will be the missing link in the development pathway for our local Fijian talent for the FNRL.
“The recent success of the PNG Hunters playing in the Queensland Intrust Super Cup provides the perfect template to work from. Being independently run by my Bid management team, we will offer full time professional playing opportunity based in Fiji.
“The New South Wales Intrust Super Premiership is chosen due to the large financial logistics in being easily accessible from our home training base in Fiji. We will offer 30 full-time professional playing contracts to our players whom will be chosen through a trial process.
“Our season will run from March to September featuring 13 Home games in Fiji and 12 away games in Sydney and one in New Zealand.
“I am looking forward to meeting soon with the Fiji National Rugby League Board and Chairman Filimoni Vosarogo and Deputy Chairman- Peni Musunamasi and am hopeful of their endorsement of the Bid. We will assist the FNRL in providing financial and coaching support as well.
“Once we receive the endorsement, we will start ASAP to ensure that we are ready and competitive for the 2019 season.”
Jarryd Hayne, Bati’s star player at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, has also started that the sport would grow massively in Fiji if there was a team in the NSW Cup competition.