NRL to play pre-season games in Pacific nations

NRL will play pre-season matches in Pacific nations for the next three years in a bid to help grow the sport.

Australia president Scott Morrison made the announcement in Suva, Fiji, on Friday morning. At least two NRL teams will play a trial game within the region in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Players and coaches will be in-country for several days prior to each of the matches to prepare and train, as well as participating in NRL and department of foreign affairs and trade programmes targeted towards promoting social inclusion, participation, equality and health and wellbeing.

The Australian government have also included funding supporting for an elite-level rugby league team in Fiji to compete in the New South Wales Cup.

NSWRL general manager of football, Barrie-Jon Mather, said the decision was a great vote of confidence in the game’s future in the Pacific.

He commented: “The announcement of support by the Australian government, substantially assists the bid team, led by Petero Civoniceva, and puts them a step closer to realise their dream of having a Fijian team play in our elite competition.”

The NRL will work directly with NRL clubs before confirming which teams will participate in the Pacific trials at a later date.