Fiji to host Melbourne Storm, Newcastle Knights pre-season trial in first-ever NRL sanctioned match on the Pacific Island

Drew Darbyshire
Fiji international Tui Kamikamica in action for Melbourne Storm in 2023 - Alamy

Fiji international Tui Kamikamica in action for Melbourne Storm in 2023 - Alamy

Melbourne Storm and Newcastle Knights will play a pre-season trial in the first-ever NRL sanctioned rugby league match in Fiji in February.

The historic match will be played at Churchill Park in Lautoka on Saturday, February 24, as part of both clubs’ preparations for the 2024 NRL campaign.

English full-back Will Pryce, who has arrived at the Knights on a two-year deal from Huddersfield Giants, could be set to make his first appearance in his new colours in the game in Fiji.

Meanwhile, Super League Grand Final winner Kai Pearce-Paul could miss the start of the NRL season after undergoing on a toe injury following his arrival Down Under.

Melbourne Storm ‘excited’ to play in first-ever sanctioned NRL match in Fiji

Storm chief executive Justin Rodski said: “We are very excited about bringing the first ever NRL match to Fiji.

“The support of Fiji Airways and Tourism Fiji has helped to make this groundbreaking match become a reality and we can’t wait to give Fijians the opportunity to see their NRL stars up close and personal.

“We already have a lot of Fijian talent within our game, and this serves as an incredible opportunity to not only grow the sport we love but help develop the next wave of talent and hopefully give more young men and women the chance to play NRL or NRLW.

“Rugby league is a fast-growing sport in Fiji and we hope this trial game can be the launching pad for future NRL content to be played here in Fiji.

“The NRL has been working incredibly hard to expand the game internationally, to bring more fans to the game and hopefully deepen our talent pool. They have been very supportive of our plans to play in Fiji and we think this game will be a great way to fast track some of their plans.”

The Melbourne club will spent the week leading into the pre-season trial to connect with the local Fijian community, engaging with schools and local rugby league clubs to provide inspiration and a pathway to youngsters who dream of playing in the NRL one day.

Storm will wear a specially designed training t-shirt during the game week and the match will feature traditional Fijian artwork as a mark of respect for the Pacific Island.

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